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Aerospace

Goodbye Airbus A380, one of the first planes to fly 3D printed parts

Production will now focus on A330 and A350 class aircraft

Airbus will stop production of its giant Airbus A380 models due to low demand for the huge and hugely expensive aircraft. This is not something directly related to 3D printing but it does affect the AM industry indirectly as Airbus is Europe’s largest user of AM technologies and the A380 did feature a number of 3D printed parts.

Following a review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates is reducing its A380 order book from 162 to 123 aircraft. The airline will take delivery of 14 further A380s over the next two years. As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380  in 2021.

Emirates has also decided to continue growing with Airbus’ newest generation, flexible widebody aircraft, ordering 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft. These new generation planes also make intensive use of AM for engine, exterior metal parts and interior polymer parts.

“As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021,” said Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders. “The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results”.

Airbus A380
The new A350 models

“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators,” Tom Enders added.

“The A380 is Emirates’ flagship and has contributed to the airline’s success for more than ten years. As much as we regret the airline’s position, selecting the A330neo and A350 for its future growth is a great endorsement of our very competitive widebody aircraft family,” said Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO. “Going forward, we are fully committed to deliver on the longstanding confidence Emirates is placing in Airbus.”

Airbus will start discussions with its social partners in the next few weeks regarding the 3,000 to 3,500 positions potentially impacted over the next three years. However, the ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal mobility opportunities.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst for leading US-firm SmarTech Analysis, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he Co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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