Airbus SA has announced that it will stop production of the A380 super jumbo aircraft in 2021, a move that will impact some in-house composites production as the company puts more focus on smaller jets, including ones with carbon fiber bodies.
According to the company, the decision is due to a shortfall in customer orders. A key factor was the move by Emirates airlines to reduce an existing order for 53 aircraft to just 14.
The airline will instead look to take delivery of 70 smaller aircraft, including the A330 and A350.
Various components for the A380, including wings and undercarriage assemblies, are either developed or produced in the United Kingdom. The wings are assembled at the Airbus plant in Broughton, Wales. The wings of the super jumbo use an outer skin, outer flaps, spoilers and ailerons made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic, with wing inners fabricated using aluminum alloys. The wing's leading edge is produced using thermoplastics.
However, the shift to smaller aircraft still could benefit composites production.
Airbus is hopeful that employees dedicated to building the A380 wings can be successfully moved to assembly for other aircraft types, also produced at the plant. Broughton delivers approximately 1,000 wing units per year.
Broughton also delivers wing assemblies for the new A350, which is one of the planes Emirates is order in place of the A380. This total structure of the A350 is approximately 50 percent composite materials, including major sections of the wings and fuselage.