Airbus A220 faces serious production challenges

With supply chain issues present throughout the whole aviation industry, the Airbus A220 remains no exception to those developments
Karolis Kavolelis / Shutterstock.com

The Airbus A220 has become the latest victim of industry-wide supply chain problems, with late parts and quality issues challenging the manufacturer’s goal of delivering as many aircraft as possible by year-end.   

The issues were first revealed by Leeham News, which learned that both Final Assembly Lines that support the A220, namely Mirabel, Canada, and Mobile, Alabama, United States (US), have been dealing with supply chain-related delays. With parts arriving late, including engines, measures had to be taken to keep assembly lines moving, such as cannibalizing parts or using weights to imitate engines to move aircraft. However, an Airbus spokesperson has ruled out a shutdown of the FALs, they were quoted as saying by the publication. 

Combined, the two assembly lines currently have a production rate of six per month, according to a statement to AeroTime from Annabelle Duchesne, a spokesperson for Airbus Canada.

However, looking throughout the year’s monthly delivery data from Airbus, the two sites sometimes failed to reach that rate. In October 2022, for example, the manufacturer delivered five A220s, while a month prior, the number was four. In August 2022, it delivered zero of aircraft of the type.

Complex supply chain environment

While Airbus began the year ambitiously with a target of a total of 720 deliveries, the manufacturer was forced to revise that number to 700 in July 2022. In December 2022, the manufacturer once again adjusted its target, indicating that it would not reach the 700 annual delivery rate this year, citing a “complex operating environment”.

“Like any other aircraft programs, we are currently in a complex supply chain environment,” continued Duchesne in a statement to AeroTime, adding that the manufacturer has continued to work with its suppliers to mitigate the impact of the current situation, citing such cases as “effects of COVID-19, issues with raw materials, transportation and logistics, and shortage of labor”.

She reiterated that “some short-term planning adjustments have been made to align with our supply chain to protect deliveries to our committed customers”. Still, “Airbus has a watchtower in place which is actively managing the situation, as well as putting anticipation and mitigation measures in place,” added Duchesne.

At its maximum production capacity, the Mirabel, Canada, and Mobile, Alabama, US, facilities will produce 10 and four A220s per month, respectively.

As of November 31, 2022, Airbus delivered a total of 565 aircraft, with two Airbus A350-900s not handed over to Aeroflot due to sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. In terms of the Airbus A220, the planemaker delivered 45 aircraft of the type, split into six A220-100 and 39 A220-300s, per the manufacturer’s Orders & Deliveries data. 

According to planespotters.net, the two assembly lines delivered five A220s throughout December 2022: three from the Mirabel FAL, two from Mobile FAL. AirBaltic received two, while Air France, Breeze Airways, and JetBlue received a single unit each.

UPDATE December 21, 2022, 10:30 AM (UTC +3): The article was updated with a statement from Airbus.

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