Exclusive Interview: Airbus COO Tom Williams about changing times for Airbus.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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13 January 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Airbus COO Tom Williams has a goal of reducing development expenses by 50% and streamlining the production to “best in class.”

Williams is in charge of the areas at Airbus with the greatest headwinds as Airbus goes from a development driven company to a production driven one.

It’s a daunting task to manage development, production and sourcing for a company with a product range where each delivered unit is made up of four million parts. It does not get easier by having to shrink the development activities from 30,000 employees and contractlors to 20,000.

We spoke to Williams about these challenges at the sidelines of Airbus 2016 annual press conference that recapped 2015 orders and deliveries.


  • Airbus is now changing from a development-driven organisation, constantly creating new products, to a production-oriented organisation.
  • The development activities have to be transformed so as to support a company to that does constant improvement and derivatives, not new product lines.
  • At the same time, the shareholders are saying it is payoff time. Years of investment shall now be honoured with industry conform return on invested capital.

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