Airbus Investing in Mirabel A220 Production (part 1) - First Airbus A220 for Air Tanzania
See the Giraffe painted on its tail! (picture below)
7:20 (12:20 UTC) - November 19, 2018 - Quebec, Canada - by Sylvain Faust for Fliegerfaust
Airbus is Investing in Mirabel – Facilitating A220 Production
According to information I received from multiple sources Airbus is about to change how things are currently done at its A220 assembly facility located at Mirabel Airport YMX/CYMX 60 km (35 miles) North West of Montreal.
Airbus recently acquired the facility from Bombardier as part of the transfer of the majority ownership of the CSeries aircraft program to Airbus, the transaction closed on July 1, 2018. The CSeries was renamed A220 few days later by Airbus. The transaction was announced 8 months earlier on September 16, 2017. Read "Transatlantic Alliance"
Originally, before Bombardier decided to go on with the CSeries project this Mirabel airport facility was solely use for the CRJ aircraft assembly designed and built for it.
First Air Tanzania A220 MSN 55047
Bombardier had to prepare for the coming CSeries production and the CRJ assembly location was selected with the help of the Quebec Government. Do you remember this back in 2005 when Bombardier announced that the area of Montreal, Quebec was selected for its new CSeries factory?
- Bombardier evaluates CSeries development costs, at $2.1 billion US, which it will share with suppliers and partner governments, each for one-third of the total amount. The governments of Canada, Québec and the U.K. will together invest a total of approximately $700 million US. Canada's and Québec's contributions represent $262.5 million US and $87.5 million US respectively. Contributions from the U.K., amounting to $340 million US (£180 million), will be in the form of launch investment and financial assistance. These investments will support the research and development for the CSeries family of aircraft and will be repayable on a royalty basis per aircraft.Source: https://www.bombardier.com/en/media/newsList/details.196-bombardier-announces-location-of-final-assembly-site-and-work-packages-for-the-cseries.bombardiercom.html
A new hangar and some office space were added in late 2013 by Bombardier to accommodate the CSeries coming production and also planning on using of some of the space used by the CRJ assembly.
Construction of an additional building dedicated to the CSeries productionPhoto: Sylvain Faust, November 25, 2013
The original "expansion" plan at Mirabel for the CSeries were not executed totally due to financial problems at Bombardier. Problems with the CSeries development cost increasing beyond what was expected by the management by a factor of 2 and then 3, that's 300% of the original budget. As pointed out many time on Fliegerfaust over the last few years, the Mirabel facility has been running out of space since day one of the CSeries production and affecting still today the A220 past and current production (Scroll down Normand Hamel articles from his section here)
As indicated in articles by Normand Hamel on Fliegerfaust, Bombardier being "short on cash" and almost going bankrupt without the help of the Quebec Government injecting US$1 Billion acquiring half of the CSeries program, forced the company to implement ways of doing things what were not the most efficient.
Modifying CRJ designed hangars to allow for the CSeries to fit in, generating a "too many movements" assembly process where each aircraft has to go from building to building toward its final completion, testing and delivery. Each aircraft movement is expensive in time and in hazard, yes, sometimes aircraft had to be repaired.
A220 Aircraft going in and out of the hangars formely used by the CRJ production. A220 production facility at Mirabel AirportPhoto: Normand Hamel
This is the facility Airbus inherited
Basically, the whole CSeries assembly process was not streamline, the facility was not optimized for the CSeries, and this is the facility Airbus inherited from its acquisition of the CSeries. It has to be noted that Bombardier is still currently assembling its CRJ inside the "now" Airbus facility losing $2 Million at each CRJ aircraft delivery (as per Alain Bellemare, CEO Bombardier Inc.).
Changes are required
After taking over the control of the facility Airbus first step was to review the complete assembly procedures. Having to put its name on the aircraft, Airbus wants to insure the delivery of a "Safe" aircraft; this is the priority #1. On that side Airbus was surprised on how the Bombardier CSeries employees were able to accomplish such a feast with so few ingredients/resources. Thumbs-up! The CSeries has a very high "flawless" dispatch rate of >99%, the industry and customers was expecting lower, so this is excellent. (read "Swiss grades CS100 after four months in service" )
Employees are ask to submit again ideas they might have suggested to Bombardier earlier but were thrown down because of their cost with the company running on a tight budget.
With Airbus not having the same "cash flow" issues as with Bombardier, now is the time to go forward with some changes, a first step at what can be done to help increase the production of the A220 in Mirabel.
First is to free up as much hangar space by taking "out" some activities that are not part of the "assembly" process as such.
Pre-first flight and Delivery are two of them.
Both are some sort of delivery in fact. The first is the delivery of the aircraft to the test pilots and the second is delivery of the aircraft from the test pilots to the client.
Currently Airbus Mirabel has two (2) pre-flight delivery positions but just one (1) client delivery position for a total of three (3). When an aircraft takes more time or is stuck for some reason at the delivery process it does put a HOLD on the whole factory, not good! For example, the new Airbus A320 assembly facility in Mobile is setup with five (5) position/aircraft to offering a parallel delivery phase, having problems with one aircraft at the delivery phase does not stop anything in the factory.
Airbus At Work in Mirabel
Before the end of 2018 you will see new structures to be erected on the land around the current hangars making possible "concurrent" delivery.
But first, within the next few days you will see new structures being erected near the current hangars to help accommodate with the pre-flight process. Space for allowing the test pilots to prepare/certify new aircraft toward their first flight (first pre-delivery test flight) will be increasing. Currently it is two (2).
In part 2, coming shortly, I will address the changes Airbus is about to make "inside" the A220 assembly process and also interesting information about parts that will be "Made In Mirabel" and shipped to Mobile, Alabama to be used at the coming A220 assembly facility. This new Mobile, Alabama A220 facility will be starting production in 2019, more on this soon.
A220 Production Update
Since my last production update last week I can see the delivery schedule shifting forward by about a week, confirming my mentioned expectations (been there done that). Read about my A220 production schedule here
On the positive side, check the new animal I found at the Mirabel factory. This is the first A220 aircraft to be delivered to Air Tanzania MSN 55047, all painted featuring its famous "Giraffe" on its vertical stabilizer/tail. Don't let that one outdoor too long, it is freezing,-8 C (18F) at the time I'm writing you this. Air Tanzania ordered two (2) A220-300 and both are progressing well with the first one scheduled for delivery in December. I'm expecting the 2nd one to be delivered toward the beginning of the new year 2019.
First Airbus A220-300 for Air Tanzania - See Panasonic satellite communication dome? A first for the A220.
The two (2) Air Tanzania A220-300 are MSN 55047 and 55048.
A first for these two A220 is the installation of the Panasonic KU band Internet communication system. The dome protecting the antenna on the top of the aircraft fuselage is different from the one on the Delta A220, as you see on the above picture. As you now know, if you read my article "Things You Don't Know About The First Delta A220 / CSeries", Delta selected Gogo for its Internet and its "in flight" entertainment system for their A220.
That's all for today, stay tuned for part 2 coming out soon.
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Sylvain Faust, Fliegerfaust
Original Fliegerfaust.com content is Copyright Fliegerfaust.com 2018
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