In Toulouse, a big party had been prepared on Saturday; dozens of guests were preparing to win the Pink City aerospace event at year's end: the delivery of the first A350-900 aircraft. And then the telegram arrived from Doha informing us that the delivery of the brand new beautiful plane was "suspended until further notice." All without explanation! What has happened, then, for the event to be challenged?
On Airbus's side, there was rejoicing at the development of the new aircraft. The European aircraft manufacturer had promised that the delivery by year's end was on time, and had decided that its launch customer, Qatar Airways, would receive the first aircraft on December 13. A particularly important client since the Gulf company had ordered 80 of these aircraft including 43 of version 900.
Airbus engineers and pilots had succeeded in a record time in the development of this aircraft, certified by European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) on September 30. On November 12, it was the Americans' turn to give a rubber stamp for the start of the business career of the aircraft. We do remember the last test conducted by the Airbus team around the world in 20 days without any problem.
With respect to Qatar Airways, one must briefly consider the personality of the President, Akbar Al Baker. He is a little man speaking English eloquently, and knows what he wants. This is not the first time he has slapped Airbus. Last June, he had refused to take delivery of its first A380. He hadn't liked the carpet! And the customer is always the king, Airbus has modified the aircraft's floor carpet to the point that President Al Baker, who had received the aircraft with a 3 month delay, said he was delighted with the performance.
The Qatar Airways head had complained officially about the poor quality of the paint used for the A350. The Airbus spokesman said: "We work closely with Qatar Airways to deliver the first A350 XWB (extra wide body) very quickly." And if this is really the case about a little paint to redo, the first two-aisle Qatar Airways Airbus should take off as planned in mid-January on the Doha-Frankfurt line.
In all, this is bad for Airbus's reputation. Boeing, however, officially said that it was not throwing stones at a competitor, but has already begun an Airbus bashing campaign involving the quality of the aircraft. It may that the A350 has become second to the Dreamliner Boeing 787, known and remembered for the developmental difficulties which led to its grounding by the FAA for a time.. Airbus made up for its delay in 3 years, and the A350 made up for lost time and recorded almost 780 orders came from 41 companies in the world.
In terms of share price this case has taken a catastrophic turn since the Action Group Airbus has lost 18% since the postponement of the delivery of the first A350 and 27% since the beginning of the year. Of course, Ender's boys are maneuvering, particularly among financial analysts whom they try to reassure. And to return to our industrial accident, Didier Evrard, Head of the A350 program, conceded "there were still some minor issues to resolve, requiring additional tests before delivery to the Qatari company. The last aircraft will be delivered on December 22; Everything seemed to work out. Without trying to give a lesson to a major industrial company, however, I would say that a certain level of excellence, the difference in detail had been lacking. But we are optimistic, since the man who tripped the Airbus President, Al Baker is a great friend, and the vast majority of their aircraft fleet is Airbus, and will continue to be.
From Aero Morning
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