Huge Fire Rips Through German Airbus Factory – Jet Delivery Delays Likely

A major fire at an Airbus subsidiary factory overnight on Friday has caused millions of euros worth of damage and could impact on the plane maker’s ability to hit targets in aircraft delivery.

Fire at Premium Aerotec
The fire is thought to have caused several million euros of damage

The fire broke out at a factory of their subsidiary Premium Aerotec in Southern Germany, apparently in the electroplating shop, and is estimated to have caused losses in the tens of millions of euros. The cause is not yet known but took firefighters several hours to bring under control.

The factory, located in Augsburg, around 19 miles northwest of Munich, supplied fuselages for Airbus for both civil and military aircraft. A spokesperson for Premium Aerotec said it believes ‘virtually all Airbus models’ will be affected.

However, the company also shared a statement with Simple Flying, which said:

“To the best of our present knowledge we do not expect any significant supply shortfalls towards Airbus” – Premium AEROTEC Head of Operations Jens Walla.

Thankfully no injuries have been reported, as there were thought to be no employees in the building at the time the fire broke out.

premium aerotec fire
The fire took ‘several hours’ to bring under control

No immediate impact

Airbus have commented that they are not expecting any immediate impact from the fire in terms of production. They have said that it takes several months for parts produced in the Augsburg factory to be finished and added to planes.

The fire occurred in the electroplating shop and the electroplating system was entirely destroyed by the fire. Electroplating is an important step of surface refinement in the production of detail parts made of aluminum and titanium. This production step will have to be transferred from Augsburg to alternative production sites until the electroplating plant in Augsburg is rebuilt.

Alternative PAG internal electroplating facilities in Bremen, Varel, Brasov as well as some opportunities on the external market have already been identified. Their capacities are currently being checked.

Speaking to Simple Flying, a representative of Airbus commented:

“Premium AEROTEC has already identified alternative PAG internal electroplating facilities. We do not expect any significant supply shortfalls at Airbus.”

Premium Aerotec
Premium Aerotec supply fuselages for more than 600 Airbus aircraft each year

Premium Aerotec employ around 10,000 workers, with half of them based in the Augsburg factory. Along with four other German factories and one in Romania, the company produce entire sections of fuselage for Airbus, supplying around 600 aircraft per year.

The company plan to work with Airbus to mitigate delays by switching some of the production to other sites in Germany.

Still on track for 800 this year

Despite being at the very last gasp of 2018, Airbus have said they are still working flat out to reach their 800 jetliner goal for the year. The target includes handing over a minimum of 127 aircraft in December alone, a target which, to Simple Flying’s best knowledge, has not yet been achieved.

Supplier glitches with jet engines have caused Airbus to fall behind on their delivery schedule. They scaled back their target of 820 aircraft earlier in the year as a result, but plan to use their newly acquired model from Bombardier, the A220, to boost its chances of reaching their goal. Recent acceptance of the A380 by Emirates will have helped boost their deliveries, but possibly not enough.

Airbus A220
Airbus will be reliant on the A220 to meet their target

Orders for the year are also down; as of November, the plane maker had secured just 380 orders (439 excluding cancellations) although their recent announcement of an order from Irish firm Avalon will boost that number significantly. Avalon plan to order 100 A320neo family aircraft, in a deal worth $11.5bn. Despite this, their year’s order book will still be significantly lower than 2017, when they sold more than 1,100 jetliners, thanks largely to a massive 430 plane deal from Indigo Partners.