After years of turmoil, including a two-year delay that wiped out more than $6.61 billion in profit for Airbus, the aerospace giant’s much anticipated A380 giant jetliner safely completed its first transatlantic flight, with one plane carrying 483 passengers landing in New York’s Kennedy airport yesterday at 12:10pm ET and another, without passengers, touching down in Los Angeles shortly thereafter.
The double-decker Airbus A380’s football field-size wings and lavish interiors drew crowds of spectators wanting to witness the landings that some say were reminiscent of the early days of the Concorde’s transatlantic flights.
Beyond the show value, yesterday’s landings were a milestone for Airbus, which has dealt with major setbacks with the A380 development project, due in part to snafus with the aircraft’s wiring system. Development teams in different countries and using different versions of Dassault Systems’ Catia 3D CAD software reportedly ran into interoperability problems between different versions of the software, leading to the sharing of inaccurate design information that contributed to the wiring systems’ initial faulty design.
Airbus’ struggles—and eventual success launching the A380–using digital design tools like 3D CAD and Product Lifecycle Management points up lessons for every manufacturer trying to leverage the digital world to bring efficiencies and more innovation to the design process. Boeing has undergone a similar program for its Dreamliner 787 aircraft, with better early success.
Only time will tell which plane gets the most orders, but for the rest of us, it’s nice to watch jetliners–and PLM–take flight.