Airbus is one of the two largest airliner manufacturers in the world, alongside Boeing.
It is a company which utilises various other manufacturers who produce parts of its aircraft, which are then brought together at different sites to assemble the final airframes.
History of Airbus
Airbus Industries was founded in 1970 with the intention of producing a new European airliner as a collaboration between many of the established European aircraft manufacturers of the time, to rival established companies like Boeing, Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas who dominated the airliner industry.
The manufacturer brought together various European governments in a joint venture to create Airbus. Each government supported companies from their own countries to form the new consortium, such as Aerospatiale (France), British Aerospace (UK), Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (Germany) and CASA (Spain).
The first airliner produced was the A300. This was the world’s first widebody (twin-aisle) airliner to only use two engines, and went on to great success.
Future products have included the A310, A320 family, A330, A340, A350 and A380.
Today Airbus is producing neo (New Engine Option) models of its A320 family and A330 aircraft, which are proving very popular with the world’s airlines.
Where are Airbus Planes Built
Today, Airbus has a number of production sites around the world where its aircraft (not just airliners, but military aircraft and helicopters) are built.
The two main sites are at Toulouse in France (the Airbus headquarters) and Hamburg’s Finkenwerder Airport in Germany.
In addition, Airbus has manufacturing sites in China, Canada, the USA, Spain and the UK.
The full list of Airbus manufacturing sites are:
- Toulouse, France – A320neo, A330 family, A350
- Hamburg Finkenwerder, Germany – A318, A319, A320 and A321neo families
- Seville, Spain – A400 military transport
- Mobile, AL, USA – A220, A319, A320 and A321neo families
- Tianjin, China – A319 and A320neo families
- Montreal Mirabel, Canada – A220
- Broughton, UK – Wings for various aircraft types
How does Airbus production work?
With its production lines being scattered across the world, Airbus needed an innovative solution to bring the parts of its aircraft together for final assembly.
To do this, it employs a fleet of super transporter aircraft which ferry parts between production sites.
Originally, these were old Aero Spacelines Guppy aircraft, developed from the Boeing Stratocruiser.
In the 1990s a fleet of so-called Beluga aircraft were built, based on the Airbus A300-600 jet airliner. These had much higher capacity.
Today, a new fleet of ‘BelugaXL’ aircraft are being introduced to slowly replace the original Belugas. These are based on the Airbus A330 aircraft, and have even greater capacity.
The sheer success of Airbus, despite being relatively young compared to its main rival Boeing, saw it deliver more airliners than any other manufacturer in 2021, and it has a healthy order book.
Despite calling time on the iconic A380 superjumbo recently, Airbus is pressing ahead with massive demand for its A320neo family of aircraft, an in particular the A321XLR, which looks set to revolutionise long-haul travel.
It also recently announced the A350 freighter variant, with orders coming in for the new type already.