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Manufacturing Mayday

Production glitches send Airbus into a tailspin

6 min read

What has gone so badly amiss at Europe’s Airbus manufacturing consortium and with its A380 superjumbo airliner? Just a year and a half ago, when the A380 made a dramatic demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show, Airbus seemed to have the world in its hands. For the second year in a row, it was outdistancing Boeing in obtaining new aircraft orders, and it had nearly 160 orders for the A380 in hand.

Then suddenly just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The announcement of A380 production delays last June sent Airbus shares tumbling—the one-day drop was comparable to Enron’s following the disclosure of that company’s off-the-book partnerships. After further A380 production delays were announced at the end of September, several major companies canceled or delayed standing orders: Virgin Atlantic pushed back its purchase of six A380s for four years, for example, and FedEx said it would buy 15 Boeing 777 freighters rather than the 10 of the A380 freighter version it had planned to get from Airbus. Meanwhile, British BAE Systems got rid of the 20 percent share it had in EADS, the parent company of Airbus [see timeline, "Airbus's Wild Ride"].

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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