Airbus Will Convert The A380 Production Line To Build The A320 Family

Airbus will convert the A380 production line at its Toulouse facility to produce A320-family aircraft. The modern production line will be installed at the Lagardère plant in Toulouse and aims to be operational by the end of 2022.

The new production line will use modern technology to assemble A320-family jets. Photo: Airbus

A modern, digitally-enabled production line

With the A380 program now at an end, Airbus will convert its A380 production line in Toulouse to a modern, digitally-enabled A320/A321 final assembly line (FAL). The A380 line first opened up in 2004 and continued to produce the mammoth A380 up until March this year, when the final A380 rolled off the assembly line.

Airbus’s new A320/A321 line will also replace one of Toulouse’s original A320 FAL’s. With work set to resume on the project, Airbus is hoping it will be up and running by the end of 2022. The new production line will be able to assemble both the A321neo and the A320neo. Airbus has also said that “the higher level of A321 production flexibility will also support entry-into-service of the A321XLR from Hamburg starting in 2023.

JetBlue A321neo
Airbus has sold over 15,500 A320-family planes and has a further 5,650 on backlog. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

The new production line had been planned earlier, but the COVID pandemic forced Airbus to put the project on hold in April 2020. The manufacturer cut its production of aircraft by 40% in the wake of cancellations and reduced orders. Before the pandemic, Airbus was producing up to 60 single-aisle jets each month.

Airbus said in a statement,

“Now, with market recovery in sight and a potential return to pre-COVID production rates for single-aisle aircraft between 2023 and 2025, Airbus is resuming its activities for the project.”

Improved working conditions, quality and efficiency

The state-of-the-art facilities will offer many advantages to Airbus’s industrial capabilities, including better conditions for workers and improved quality. The new line will provide jobs for 500 people and also incorporate advanced robotics.

The manufacturer has introduced similar robotics at four of its Hamburg production lines, although it has encountered some early problems with the technology.

SAS A320neo
The aerospace manufacturer was producing 60 single-aisle planes a month before the pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

According to Airbus,

“The modernized A320 Family FAL in Toulouse will help improve the working conditions, the overall industrial flow as well as the quality and competitiveness by adding a new-generation assembly line to the Airbus single-aisle production system.”

With the new line set to go live by the end of 2022, Airbus is targeting a return to its pre-pandemic production levels between 2023 to 2025. A320-family planes are the best-selling commercial aircraft in the world, with over 15,500 planes sold to over 320 customers. Airbus also has a backlog of over 5,650 jets awaiting production and delivery.

Additionally, Airbus recently informed suppliers to be ready for an 18% increase in production for A320-family jets by the end of 2022, which would take production to 53 planes a month. The company has also said it intends to reach 45 planes a month by the end of 2021.

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Another A321neo facility

The A321neo has been performing very well for Airbus, significantly outselling its primary competitor, the larger variants of the 737 MAX. Presently, only two Airbus facilities are capable of building the A321neo – Hamburg, Germany and Mobile, Alabama.

A321XLR Image
Airbus’s new A321XLR is set to enter the market by 2023. Photo: Airbus

The new FAL at Toulouse will also enable its Hamburg facility to focus on the new A321XLR, scheduled to enter the market in 2023. All of Airbus’s recent moves suggest the manufacturing giant is very confident the aviation industry will see a complete recovery over the next few years.

Do you think Airbus’s optimism about the industry is well-placed? Let us know your thoughts and insights in the comments.