Airbus Cancels The Airbus A380 program

Once the pride of the European aviation industry, Airbus is canceling the Super Jumbo program. Citing the lack of orders and the largest operator of the  A380 reducing their backlog, Airbus had no other choice. The program was just not sustainable anymore. Effective 2021, Airbus won't produce any more  Airbus A380.

The Airbus A380 program shocked everyone in 2000 when the European conglomerate announced the launch of the A3XX. After Airbus first tested the aircraft in 2005, the company launched the Super Jumbo in 2007 with Singapore Airlines. Airbus experienced a tough rollercoaster ride. From initial delays, rising development costs and structural issues to an ever increasing number of orders and then the eventual fall of them.

The Airbus A380 has brought one wild ride for everyone involved, including passengers and airports. But the mark it left on aviation will never be forgotten. People will definitely remember the A380 as one of the greatest engineering feats that the world has seen.

Nevertheless, there is a question on everybody’s mind: why did this happen?

Airbus is canceling the production of A380 Airbus is canceling the production of A380

The signs were there

Established almost 50 years ago, Airbus has always had tough competition. Gradually, the corporation increased its portfolio of aircraft. It ranged from small narrow-body jets such as the A320 to Airbus' first ever aircraft, the A300.

However, it never had the one thing that Boeing had. A large jet like the Boeing 747, which the American aircraft manufacturer revealed 50 years ago. Airbus knew that they needed to come up with a direct competitor, as more and more passengers traveled around the world via air. So, the company decided to draw the plans for a new jet to directly compete with the Queen of the Skies.

Interestingly enough, Boeing was also interested in developing a larger successor to the 747. Later on, they dropped this thought, as they did not think it would be a profitable program. That was the first hint that maybe building such a large jet was not such a great idea.

Airbus was having none of it. In the late 2000s, the company officially announced the Airbus A380. Initially, Airbus predicted a 9.5 billion euro development cost and the investments returning in 2010. That is if Airbus would deliver 250 A380s by that time. In another 10 years, Airbus hoped that the Super Jumbo would make a profit of 40 billion euros.

Six launch customers approached the Airbus A380 program with 50 confirmed orders. Airlines were hopeful as well.

Airbus stated that the A380 would enter service in 2005. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t happen until 2007.

Wiring issues

Airbus manufacturing plant of the A380 Airbus manufacturing plant of the A380

To start off, Airbus told airlines in 2005 that the Super Jumbo would be delayed by 6 months initially. Wiring issues caused the delays, as various facilities in Europe were using different software. Because of the wiring material and the complex design plans, this caused a huge issue.

This is where the complexity of Airbus’ manufacturing process came in. With different plants in multiple countries, sometimes factors such as national pride can come into play. According to a 2006 article in the New York Times, Tom Williams who at the time was the chief of aircraft programs at Airbus said this:

"It was partly a question of national pride. The German engineers sort of felt that there was a French solution being imposed on them. But the fact was there was a tool being used in Hamburg that was behind the times."