Visiting the Light and Medium Aircraft Line at Airbus Military: September 2012

2012-10-14 During a recent visit to Seville, Second Line of Defense had a chance to talk with Martin Armas, in charge of the industrialization of the final assembly line.  His formal title is Head of M and L Industrial Management and Control.

During the visit, several planes were in various phases of completion, and customers represented were France, Vietnam, Egypt and Kazakhstan.  We got an update on the planes as well as on the new lean production approach.

SLD: The last time we were here – two years ago – the line was full of USCG Ocean Sentry aircraft.  Could you describe what is here today?

Planes in various phases of build on the light and medium aircraft assembly line in Seville, Spain in late September 2012. Credit: Airbus Military

Armas: Among other planes, you saw the fifth Vietnamese C-212.  This plane is being final assembled from the main structural groups provided by our partner in Indonesia.

The plane represents a basic approach of Airbus Military, which is to grow footprint in Southeast Asia in the years ahead. 

There are significant development opportunities in the region, but these opportunities require a significant industrial presence in the region as well.

So what we are doing with this plane is the main final assembly of the Vietnamese planes, but the rest of the groups and parts to be assembled are done in Indonesia.

SLD: There is a Kazakh C-295 being built on the final assembly line.  This is the largest plane built on this line.

Could you describe this effort?

Armas: The plane you saw is the second Kazakh C-295.  The first is currently being tested and we plan to deliver the plane in the coming weeks.  It is going to be used for airlift purposes.

And we have just signed contracts with Oman for 8 of these planes, with three to be configured as Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

SLD: What about the Egyptian planes?

Armas: We have currently contracted for six C-295s with Egypt.  We have delivered three and anticipate sending the 4th and 5th ones this year. We will send the 6th next year.

SLD: Finally, there are a couple of French aircraft on the line.

Armas: There are 2 French CN-235s being built now.  These represent the 198th and 199th of this model series.

We expect to have an event in the first quarter of 2013 when we deliver the last of the French CN-235s, which will be the 200th model in the series.

And after that we are looking forward to another event for the 100th C-295.  The Kazakh C-295 currently on the line is number 96.  So 4 to go to get to the 100!

SLD: The last time we were here, the new approach to lean production was being started.  How has it gone and with what impacts?

Armas:  The approach has been a culture change, not only in terms of management working with blue-collar workers, but engineers working with blue-collar workers.  The entire approach rests on significant improvements in communication so that problems get identified earlier and dealt with more effectively.

Not only do the industrialization issues become much clearer to deal with but clients see the process as well.  Last week we had a core customer here and they could see what was happening with regard to a production issue posted on the walls of the assembly line.  It is a VERY transparent process.

But it means that we don’t have to wait until the end of the process to change customer requirements but can build in a way to do this as we are producing the plane.

 Credit Photos: Airbus Military

  • In the first two pictures, A400Ms in the final leg of their journey in Seville are pictured.  Three of the aircraft to be delivered next year where in the facility: 2 for France and 1 for Turkey.  The engines have been removed from the planes and set to the manufacturer who is making repairs associated with the gear box.  The engines will return and be mated with the planes, which will have undergone some modifications with the newly mated engines.
  • The remaining photos are of the light and medium assembly line.  During the date of the visit (September 28, 2012), there were planes being built for Vietnam, France, Kazakhstan and Egypt.  The Vietnamese planes were being final assembled from major sections provided by Indonesia.  Indonesia is a key partner of Airbus Military and a legacy partner of CASA.

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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