Enders on “internationalization”

Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus, vowed to continue “internationalization” of its production while protecting intellectual property rights and avoiding Boeing’s mistakes with the 787 program.

Speaking to a small group of the 90 journalists attending the Airbus Innovation Days in Hamburg, Enders told us that the international plan is “strategic” and that Airbus “will do this in a responsible way.”

“Internationalization for me is the new Airbus standard,” Enders told us. But even with the establishment of an A320 assembly site in Tianjin, China, Enders said technology is tightly controlled by Airbus and that commercial technology does not have application toward military technology.

Airbus has 11 engineering centers throughout the world and many production sites in Europe. The company wants to establish an assembly site in Mobile (AL) for the KC-30 tanker and the A330-200F should Northrop Grumman win the KC-X competition about to begin with the US Department of Defense. Northrop is the bidder and integrator of the tanker, based on the KC-330/A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport now in development for five countries.

Still, Enders vowed to avoid the international production snafus that have plagued Boeing’s 787. This airplane is two years late, with its first flight expected in June. The international industrial partnership established by Boeing has been a quality-control and logistical nightmare that is slowly being resolved.

Enders said that the A350 program, which will follow an international production model, will be more closely supervised and have fewer partners than was true in the 787 program. He believes this will enable the A350 to enter service on time in 2013.

Boeing has acknowledged that the 787-8 program went too far and top executives have said several times that they development of the 787-9 will be closer to home. More engineering and more production will be brought back under the  Boeing banner, they have said,  but they have yet to detail exactly what this means.

On another topic, Enders said there is still “a long way to go” on integrating Airbus into one well-functioning company. The EADS Military division, MTAD (the KC-330 MRTT) has only recently been moved under the Airbus banner. It will take time to integrate operations.

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