|Now That's a Big Plane!|
|Subject||Airbus incurs fixed costs as it moves to create its new jumbo airliner|
|Topic||Production and Costs|
|Key Words||Production, Fixed Costs|
Airbus has a problem: As it makes its new Airbus A380 airplane - the
so-called "eighth wonder of the world" - it has to put the pieces
together. And some of the pieces are bigger than any available transportation
vehicle to get these huge pieces to the assembly plant.
The head of A380 transportation spent three years traveling around Europe, hoping to find the easiest way to move the gigantic pieces of the plane. He discovered that the straightest road wasn't the easiest road to use, and ended up with a more creative route. Parts from around Europe will arrive in Bordeaux, France on a ferry built in China. A floating dock, built in Poland, will move the parts to barges being built in the Netherlands for the 59-mile trip up the Garonne River. The boat can take on water to sink more than three feet, allowing it to slide under bridges along the way, and then pump out the water. Giant trailers with security and police escorts will then begin the 3-day, 159-mile trip to Toulouse, at 15 miles per hour, traveling by night. The entire convoy will be 1.24 miles in length. Assembly of the 121 planes currently on order is slated to begin in the spring.
The French government completely redesigned the 159-mile road to Toulouse
for this purpose, including adding 18 miles of bypass roads around towns
to handle the trucks' weight and size. The entire transportation process
is slated to cost $370 million, of which Airbus is paying one-third. The
French government and private shipping companies will pick up the rest
of the bill. Developing and building the A380 cost about $11 billion.
(Updated February, 2004)
|Source||Daniel Michaels, "Giant New Jetliner Faces Jumbo Problem: Assembly Required." The Wall Street Journal. 16 December 2003.|
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