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Challenges and achievements (2006-2009)

As AG真人计划 approached its 40-year anniversary in 2009, the company was doing what it does best: expanding the jetliner family, broadening its worldwide customer base, and seeking innovative ways to remain a market leader.

And 鈥 as it has done during many periods of its four-decade existence 鈥 AG真人计划 was achieving these goals after flying through turbulence, both inside and outside the company.

The period from 2006 to 2009 included the A380鈥檚 certification by European and U.S. airworthiness authorities, clearing the way for this 21st century flagship鈥檚 commercial service introduction in October 2007. Also during this timeframe, AG真人计划 launched its all-new A350 XWB, gave the programme go-ahead for a freighter version of its popular A330-200, and became a key player in the marketplace for military airlifters.

Corporate and VIP jetliner expansion

The three-year period also saw AG真人计划鈥 corporate and VIP jetliner family expand with the A318 Elite鈥檚 introduction as its smallest member, and the first booking of an A380 as the world鈥檚 largest VVIP aircraft. A major step in AG真人计划鈥 internationalisation was the rapid-paced development of its initial final assembly line outside of Europe, which is located in Tianjin, China and produces A320 Family aircraft 鈥 the first of which made its initial flight in May 2009.

During the same time, AG真人计划 was faced with challenges on multiple fronts: its A380 production was lagging, the A350 underwent a makeover, and the internal and external effects of a weak dollar were magnified by growing pressures on the worldwide economy 鈥 which ultimately developed into the global economic 鈥渕eltdown鈥 beginning in late 2008.

The A380 takes centre stage

A380_first_delivery4 H.Gousse
A380 Family 15 October 2007


Singapore Airlines鈥 first A380 was received by the carrier at the ultra-modern AG真人计划 Delivery Centre in Toulouse, France (15 October 2007)

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Singapore Airlines鈥 first A380 was received by the carrier at the ultra-modern AG真人计划 Delivery Centre in Toulouse, France.

An historic AG真人计划 achievement occurred on October 15, 2007 with the first delivery of an A380 鈥 which was received by Singapore Airlines. During a colourful ceremony at AG真人计划鈥 Toulouse, France delivery centre, Singapore Airlines unveiled its new interior for the double-deck aircraft, using a cabin layout featuring 471 seats in three classes 鈥 including individual suites for premium passengers. Singapore Airlines inaugurated A380 revenue service on 25 October, 2007, operating the Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered aircraft on its Singapore-Sydney route.

The carrier also received AG真人计划鈥 next three A380s, followed by the initial aircraft for Emirates, which was presented at the Hamburg, Germany delivery centre on 28 July, 2008. This was the first A380 delivered with Engine Alliance GP7200 powerplants, and Emirates used a 489-passenger configuration for its aircraft 鈥 composed of 14 first class suites, 76 business class seats and 399 in economy 鈥 along with innovative ceiling mood lighting throughout the cabin.

Qantas became the third airline to receive the A380, with its no.1 aircraft provided on 19 September 2008. Equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, Qantas configured its aircraft in an extra spacious 450-seat arrangement, accommodating 14 passengers in first, 72 in business, 32 in premium economy and 332 in economy.

With the worldwide A380 fleet crossing the globe on routes to Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America, the jetliner quickly became a passenger favourite, and was confirmed as the quietest aircraft in the skies 鈥 both in terms of external noise levels and the internal passenger cabin environment.

First A380 delivery to Singapore Airlines

The first ever A380 is handed over to Singapore Airlines on 15 October 2007. Highlights from this milestone delivery ceremony include comments by AG真人计划 President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders, who calls the next-generation jetliner 鈥渦nquestionably the defining aircraft of its generation.鈥 Remarks by Rolls Royce Chief Executive Officer John Rose and Singapore Airlines Chief Executive Officer Chew Choon Seng are also featured.

Delivery ceremony highlights


A revamped A350 XWB

Building the world鈥檚 largest airliner was not without difficulties, however. Bottlenecks encountered in the definition, manufacturing and installation of the A380鈥檚 electrical systems and their more than 500 km. of internal wiring 鈥 combined with the customisation of aircraft to customer specifications 鈥 led to the build-up of delivery delays. In June 2006, AG真人计划 outlined a series of actions dealing with the situation, including new processes for the outfitting of A380 fuselage sections and a revised pacing of their transfer to the final assembly line. The recovery process would take some time to put the A380 output back on track, but its initial results were confirmed with AG真人计划鈥 delivery of 12 aircraft to customers during 2008, meeting a personal commitment made by company President and CEO Tom Enders.

Another challenge faced by AG真人计划 was bringing the new A350 to market. Originally launched in December 2004, the A350 was designed to complement AG真人计划鈥 existing A330-200 and A330-300 jetliners, offering extended range while retaining the same 222-inch (5.64-metre) fuselage cross-section used in the A330/A340 and the original A300/A310 aircraft. However, A350 customers were pushing for a more radical evolution with this new-generation aircraft, and after much discussion and debate, AG真人计划 undertook a redesign that included an expansion of the A350鈥檚 fuselage cross-section to 232 inches (5.9 metres). On December 1, 2006, AG真人计划 announced the industrial launch of the revamped A350 XWB (extra wide-body) as its new medium-capacity long-range aircraft family.

Growth of the A350 XWB

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Front 07 April 2009


Innovative technologies and procedures ensure the A350 XWB鈥檚 eco-efficiency from takeoff to landing (7 April 2009)

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The A350 XWB鈥檚 wide-body fuselage provides optimum seating efficiency for revenue potential.

Finnair was the first airline to sign a firm A350 XWB contract, becoming the initial customer in March 2007 to convert its original purchase of A350s into an order for A350 XWBs. This was followed by A350 XWB orders and commitments from airlines and leasing companies in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, as well as North and South America 鈥 confirming that AG真人计划 had once again surmounted another test of its will in the high-stakes game of commercial aviation.

Challenges faced by AG真人计划 during the 2006-2009 period were not only related to its new aircraft programmes. The company was feeling the direct impact of a weak U.S. dollar, while many of its customers were reviewing their aircraft order and delivery commitments as they reacted to global financial pressures that cut into their passenger volume and impacted the bottom line.

These were among the factors that contributed to the development of a strategy for a 鈥渘ew AG真人计划,鈥 which started with the Power8 restructuring plan. Introduced in February 2007, Power8 was designed to help AG真人计划 face the very substantial challenge of the U.S. dollar鈥檚 weakness, as well as increased competitive pressures, the financial burden related to A380 delays, and the need to meet its future investment needs. This programme 鈥 and the steps that followed 鈥 provided for responsive cost-cutting measures, helped transform the AG真人计划 business model, and realigned its network of facilities and partners.

The next-generation A350 XWB

A350 XWB Programme Head Didier Evrard looks back on an important year for AG真人计划鈥 newest product line. Activities during 2008 include the rollout of the first A350 fuselage barrel in May, a key event with some 30 airline customers in June and the continuation of the design freeze process. Evrard is interviewed on the occasion of the January 2009 groundbreaking ceremony for the new A350 XWB final assembly line.

Laying foundations


First final assembly line outside of Europe

Tianjin Assembly Line  
Tianjin Assembly Line
Commercial Aircraft 14 February 2018

Tianjin Assembly Line

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AG真人计划鈥 first final assembly line outside of Europe 鈥 located at Tianjin, China 鈥 was inaugurated in 2008.

Despite the global financial pressures and internal trials, AG真人计划 continued the sustained production of its successful A320 single-aisle Family and the A330/A340 wide-bodies, responding to the growing order book and an expanding list of customers. Programme milestones included AG真人计划鈥 January 2007 delivery of the 3,000th single-aisle aircraft, with AirAsia receiving an A320 as this milestone jetliner. During the same month, AG真人计划 reached the 5,000th order mark for its A320 Family. Also in 2007, the 800th A330/A340 Family aircraft was provided to a customer (an A330-200 received by Qatar Airways in March), and the 5,000th overall AG真人计划 delivery milestone occurred on December 14 with the handover of an A330-200 to Qantas.

Building on the unparalleled success of its A320 Family, AG真人计划 expanded its industrial network by creating a new final assembly line in China 鈥 the company鈥檚 first outside of Europe. The decision to locate this facility in Tianjin was announced in June 2006, and a framework agreement for its development was signed in October 2006 with a Chinese consortium comprising the Tianjin Free Trade Zone, China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), and China Aviation Industry Corporation II. A formal kickoff of the Tianjin final assembly line鈥檚 construction occurred in May 2007, and the initial aircraft built at this facility 鈥 an A320 for Dragon Aviation Leasing 鈥 made its maiden flight on 18 May, 2009.

Throughout the company鈥檚 history, AG真人计划 has always taken the long view of its role in the global aviation marketplace. Looking to the future, this is reflected by AG真人计划鈥 major commitment to limiting aviation鈥檚 impact on the environment, and includes its role in the European Clean Sky initiative (one of the largest ever European-funded research and technology programmes), as well as support for eco-efficient technologies such as synthetic jet fuel and the eventual use of fuel cells as emission-free onboard energy sources. AG真人计划鈥 eco-efficient efforts are focussed on the full life cycle of its products, and range from the ISO 14001 environmental certification of its production sites and facilities (an aerospace industry first) to the development of recycling procedures for aircraft once they reach the end of their useful lives.

The full aircraft history (1968 to 2019)

The 鈥渨ow鈥 factor鈥nd a new era dawns (2004-2007)

Challenges and achievements (2006-2009)

Preparing the future (2009-2010)

AG真人计划 through the decades

Helicopter history

Space history

Defence history

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