The knock-on effect of delays to the Airbus A380 is starting to spread to suppliers. The British aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce has suspended production of the engines it is making for the super-jumbo. The suspension is for one year. Rolls-Royce said that particular engine is only a small part of its annual turnover and it does not expect to have to lay off any workers. The company is contracted to provide engines for around half of the A380s on order. It expects to deliver no more than 30 of the engines to Airbus this year.
It is common for aircraft manufacturers to buy in jet engines – Rolls-Royce and a US alliance of General Electric and Pratt and Whitney are the two biggest suppliers – but all Airbus planes are assembled in France from parts built there as well as in Britain, Germany and Spain.
Shipping parts around Europe adds to the cost of each plane and Airbus is reassessing its production centres. To save money, in the future each plant may produce one full aircraft.
Rolls-Royce’s decision to suspend production of this engine comes after several airlines said that they were assessing their positions with regard to orders. Rolls-Royce said its British plant would still be producing engines for other companies including Airbus’ US rival Boeing. It is building engines for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, the competitor to Airbus’ proposed A350.
As Airbus flounders, Boeing is going from strength to strength. It announced it delivered one hundred commercial planes in the third quarter, the first time it has done that since 2002.