Airbus Investing - Increasing A220 Production - Thank You Airbus!
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2:00 AM (07:00 UTC) - November 29, 2018 - Quebec, Canada - by Sylvain Faust for Fliegerfaust
You must have read my previous update about the Airbus A220 Mirabel Airport assembly facility, if not, read it first.
Before going forward, remember what I wrote on May 1, 2018? "According to what I've learned, Airbus would be completing/expanding the CSeries assembly line as it was originally supposed to be! That is good news! Airbus is planning to make Mirabel the "Main" CSeries assembly facility helped with a new assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama to serve only the US customers…" Source Fliegerfaust by Sylvain Faust:
Airbus First Step
As I wrote in the previous update, Airbus is about to build some new structures to prop up the sometimes tedious process of aircraft pre-delivery and delivery, --i.e. the complex and mind-numbing chain of events launched when an aircraft is handed over by production to the pre-delivery test pilots, and later down the line, to the delivery team, where the client can complete their own inspection and last flight, de facto confirming the aircraft is acceptable to them (aka the delivery flight); payment is then done and the airline can fly home aboard their slick new machine.
After further investigation I was able to confirm from multiple sources that one of those two facilities will be in the shape of two very large domes while the other will take the appearance of the normal aircraft hangars we're used to.
The twin dome set will be located on the runway side of the installations (see letter A on the image below), north of what's known as "road 408", just before taxiway B (bravo) at Mirabel airport (letters C on the image). Road 408 is where are parked so-called Flight Test Vehicles and other early production A220 aircraft that are going to be dismantled, as announced on Fliegerfaust. This new installation will be used by the pre-delivery flight test team between pre-delivery test flights.
Airbus A220 Assembly Plant located at Mirabel Airport, Quebec, CanadaSource: Google
The 2nd structure would be located where Bombardier used temporary offices during the CSeries certification, on the North West side of the installations. See position B on the image. This will be used for the client delivery process.
Again, by building these additional facilities Airbus will be freeing space from the current hangars for more aircraft to be completed. As an intended consequence, an increased rate of A220 deliveries should ensue, thus making the long list of suppliers happy. That list does of course include Bombardier Inc., in its role as the biggest supplier to the Airbus A220, providing its wings, cockpit, tail cone, bulkhead, as well as engineering services. This additional breathing space would, at long last, transform the A220 saga into a genuine "profit making" project for Bombardier. This would also increase the value of the CSeries Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP) where Bombardier and the Government of Quebec are joint shareholders. But there is more.
According to some sources, Airbus would be "acquiring 100% of the A220" sooner than expected. This would add cash to Bombardier cash flow, -maybe something Bombardier CFO John Di Bert could not reveal during the last conference call? Question is what would be the valuation of the CSALP for the takeover? How much money for Bombardier? How much for the Government of Quebec? If Quebec were to recoup its initial US$1B investment this would mean Bombardier would be receiving over $US1B with its additional CSALP shares received from its additional funding, as per the agreement.
Airbus Second Step
Airbus has more investments planned for Mirabel, more changes, and in this case the expression "change is good" certainly does apply.
As you read in my previous update, the current A220 production is not physically linear, as it involves so many aircraft movements toward its completion. The building added by Bombardier called FAL (final assembly line, the building just left of position D on the image) is where the bulk of the work of the assembly process happens. The main body components of the aircraft are attached together. One thing to know is that unlike a car assembly line, for example, aircraft are built from the "outside going in", like a house. If you look at a car assembly facility it is done the other way around, from the "inside going out", adding/attaching components on top of others starting with the frame of the vehicle.
On an aircraft assembly line the "outside" of the aircraft, its fuselage, is assembled, jointed together first and then most of the remaining work is done by adding layers of components "inside", to conclude with the carpets and the seats, much more like building a house, but a flying one!
Currently five (5) sections of the A220 aircraft are initially attached together in the FAL building, then the wing, the landing gears and engines later into another building. Presently those aircraft fuselage components are empty of any "interior" (wiring, tubing, electronics boxes, isolation, walls, floor, etc.). Those are installed further down the line after the aircraft is assembled. But all this will change.
This is not optimum but this is what Airbus inherited with the acquisition of the A220 assets.
If you care to look at how the A320 assembly line works, at Mobile, Alabama, for instance, that will give you some clues on what Airbus will be creating in Mirabel, Quebec, as well as at the new A220 assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.
Today in the A220 FAL many parts are being "attached" together; the tail, rear section of the fuselage, center section, and front fuselage section (which is already attached to the nose/cockpit). Then the wing and the landing gear, and once again, ending up with an empty aircraft. The front fuselage is delivered from China to Bombardier Ville St-Laurent facility where it is attached to the cockpit. The cockpit is built by Bombardier in Ville St-Laurent/Montreal. Remember? It is where Cartierville Airport used to be located! More on this lower.
What will Airbus do? The Prefabricated Approach
Remember the Alamo? I remember how the Hilton Palacio del Rio was built in San Antonio, Texas: The Prefabricated Approach (read about how this Hotel was built back in 1967-68 and delivered ahead of schedule when the construction company's IBM 360 calculated that it was impossible)
"All guest rooms of the hotel were constructed as modular units in a location 8 miles from the construction site. Modular units were built complete with plumbing fixtures, lighting, art work, furnishings and even ash trays." (Wikipedia)
I've seen and heard about this hotel many times when in San Antonio. See the video below, very interesting!
A Tall Story Hilton Palacio del Rio www.youtube.com
To be more efficient and to increase the production rate Airbus will need to bring Mirabel toward the level they achieve elsewhere. From the current five (5) aircraft sections attached together before installing the wing and the landing gears Airbus wants to drop this to three (3) fuselage parts only, splitting the aircraft in three (3), the rear, the middle section and the front. I'm not mentioning the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and the tail cone that also need to be attached to the aircraft. This should prove to increase the production rate.
For the A320 only 2 components enters the FAL, see these 2 images below.
Airbus A320 final assembly www.youtube.com
What does this involve?
Pre-joining some of those fuselage parts will be accomplished "before" entering the FAL building. A new building will be built to move some of the work ahead (and out) of the final assembly line, before those parts enter the FAL. That new building should be located on the east side of the current Mirabel FAL building, where lays the beginning of the A220 assembly line. See position D on the first image at the top of the article. This will be Mirabel "Pre-FAL" building.
This also means that the suppliers would have to deliver "totally completed" components, thus no more workers any more from the suppliers, on site, making adjustment or final completion in the FAL. This also applies to Bombardier UK and the wing. But that's not all. Montreal and Mirabel will also be pre-assembling and completing A220 fuselage sections to be sent to Mobile for the new Airbus A220 assembly line, starting in 2019.
See a video below on how the A220 is currently being assembled in Mirabel, Quebec.
The C Series Journey www.youtube.com
As with the way the famous Hilton Palacio Del Rio in San Antonio Texas was built, Airbus is also planning on having those sections of the fuselage "pre-furnished" before entering the FAL building. The goal is to have most of the final floor installed, all the wiring, piping, electronic boxes, lavatories, etc., like it is for those pre-fabricated homes, all pre-fabricated and ready to be joined together into a final product when delivered, well, close to.
Airbus A320 - one of the 2 parts that are assembled at the FAL, with the floor and more already installed before entering the FAL.
As you can see in the picture below, this is how it is done at an Airbus A320 assembly site.
Airbus A320 Assembly LineSee the external computer screens in front of the cockpit where diagnostics results are displayed - starting at the second station
An investment is required by Airbus at their Mirabel A220 facility to achieve this; a new "Pre-FAL" building will be needed and to be located at position D on the map at the top of this article..
Thank you Airbus!
Montreal and Mirabel will also be pre-assembling and completing A220 fuselage sections to be sent to Mobile, Alabama new A220 assembly line. The A220 cockpit from Bombardier Ville St-Laurent/Montreal pre-attached with the front fuselage from China and also the "to be" pre-assembled and furnished rear section of the aircraft from the Mirabel Pre-FAL building would be supplying Mirabel and Mobile, both A220 assembly lines. We could "assume" that new jobs would also be created for this in Mirabel, thank you Airbus!
Inside the current Mirabel A220 FAL building in Mirabel, QuebecSource: Bombardier
As for what is currently being built at Bombardier Ville St-Laurent/Montreal for the A220, I hear rumours that Bombardier could be moving it to Mirabel, leasing land around that airport again. That would make it easy to ship not only to Airbus A220 Mirabel factory but also to load on cargo aircraft to ship to Mobile, Alabama I would say.
One thing for sure, if Bombardier divests itself from still more of its Ville St-Laurent real estate, --this time selling off all what is left--, this will be adding cash from real estate already owned by the company as with the land sold in Toronto at Downsview airport. Bombardier closed the old Cartierville airport in 1988, converted and sold that land into a very popular residential area, called "Quartier Bois-Franc". As a consequence, the value of the property at Ville St-Laurent has drastically increased. That factory and airport were part of the deal with the acquisition of Canadair by Bombardier in 1986. The "new factory to be" would be located on a land having a much lower value. (More on this in my next article very soon.)
A220 Additional Information: Where are the components from?
From nose to tail here is where the following components are built.The Aircraft fuselage is made of either "aluminum-lithium" alloy or composite material see below.
- Cockpit: Bombardier Ville St-Laurent/Montreal (aluminium-lithium).
- Front, center and rear fuselage: China (Bombardier Belfast, UK also provides some center fuselage section but mainly it is from China (aluminium-lithium)(The same company in China also makes all the fuselage section of the Q400 except the cockpit and wing)
- Rear cone and bulkhead: Bombardier Ville St-Laurent/Montreal (composite)
- Vertical and horizontal stabilizer: Leonardo Aeronautics (Alenia) Italy (composite) and the Rudder made by FACC Austria. The rudder is installed on the vertical stabilizer by Alenia in the FAL building.
- Wing: Bombardier Belfast, UK (composite)
- Landing gears: Liebheer Germany with final assembly and testing at Liebheer Laval, Quebec, 35 km from the A220 assembly. (https://www.liebherr.com/en/can/latest-news/news-press-releases/detail/liebherr-aerospace-inaugurates-landing-gear-assembly-hall-in-laval-(canada).html)
See who is building the A220 fuselage in China (also making the Q400 fuselage):
I'm sorry if some of all this information is confusing or not perfectly "exact" but I'm sure you got the gist of it, I hope you do appreciate my effort.
Sylvain Faust, for Fliegerfaust
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