Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, wanted a clear decision announced by mid-2022. He would not wait that long. On the occasion of the results of the first quarter, on May 4, the European manufacturer confirmed its ambition to produce 75 A320 NEO family aircraft per month from 2025 “in order to meet customer demand”. To do this, he had to persuade his entire supply chain, weakened by two years of crisis, to start a project with him of unprecedented proportions, which would lead him to produce more than 900 aircraft a year in just three years of life. And in particular Safran, whose general manager Olivier Andriès had expressed doubts about the relevance of such a rhythm.
For the boss of Airbus the situation is now clear. “Beyond 2022, we see a continuing strong increase in demand for commercial aircraft, driven by the A320 family,” he said.
So Guillaume Faury answered the question he still asked himself a few months ago, namely: “Will the ramp last until 70-75?” He already estimated then that the new orders collected in recent months for medium-term deliveries had “fully justified the ramps we are planning for the second half of the decade”.
Aside from the certainty of long-term demand persistence, the CEO of Airbus had to convince his supply chain, which has been undermined for the past two years. “We are currently working with our industrial partners to further increase production rates for the A320 family, with a view to reaching 75 aircraft per month by 2025. This increase will benefit the global aerospace industry value chain,” he said. so.
The aerospace supply chain suffered a brutal one-third reduction in production at the start of the pandemic in 2020, before having to quickly return to battle to start again in 2021. Suppliers have already been activated to reach the target of 65 devices per month until mid-2023.
Some of them had thus expressed caution, even reluctance to leave so quickly after two years of violent and deep crisis. The collapse of the aeronautics industry has drained cash, reduced investment capacity in drops, sparse workforce and led to significant skills loss. The impact was even more difficult, as the entire industry already had to invest heavily and cut costs even before the crisis to meet the demands of aircraft manufacturers and large equipment manufacturers.
Olivier Andriès, CEO of the Safran Group, said in December 2021: “Apart from our commitment of 2023 (for 65 percent), it is too early to make a decision. […] “We have a vision (of demand, author note) that is more cautious than that of aircraft manufacturers.” predicts a 4% increase.
This ramp-up will be distributed among different production sites. Mobile’s Alabama location should be a big boost. Airbus resumed work last year on a new assembly line in Toulouse, the former A380 building. The manufacturer should also take into account the growing share of the A321 NEO in its order book.
Of the 7,000 aircraft in the Airbus order book, 5,800 belong to the A320 NEO family, the majority of which are A321 NEO.