Perhaps the biggest challenge lies in getting the various parts of the airframe to the assembly site in southern France. The wings of the A380 will come from Broughton in north Wales, the rear and forward fuselage from Hamburg in Germany, the tail plane from Cadiz in Spain and the cockpit and front fuselage from St Nazaire on the French Atlantic coast.I wonder how much cost per plane the distribution of the factories adds?
In all previous Airbus programmes, the four-nation plane maker has been able to rely on its fleet of "guppy" transport aircraft– giant flying fish with huge mouths and cavernous cargo holds – to ferry component parts from the manufacturing sites to Toulouse. But the A380 is simply too large.
So instead, Airbus is having a specially designed ro-ro ship built in China to collect the wings, fuselage sections and tail fins and then transport them by sea to Bordeaux. From there they will be towed by special barge 100 kilometres down the River Garonne to the town of Langon before being deposited on to giant road trailers for the remainder of their journey. Because the trailers are so huge, the roads from Langon to Toulouse will have to be widened, at the expense of the French taxpayer. And because the journey will take three nights, special secure parking areas are having to be built along the route where the convoys can rest up during the day. At the peak of production, when Airbus is building four A380s a month, the main roads into Toulouse from the north-west will be clogged 12 nights a month with this slow-moving procession.
Government efficiency - Airbus, the European government sponsored airplane manufacturer, demonstrates a pathology of democratic socialism: