Suppliers of seats, toilets and engine parts are stretched to the limit and sometimes falling short. In one of the worst holdups, Pratt & Whitney informed Airbus in September it would ship only 75% as many engines in 2016 as planned. P&W struggled with making the engine fan blades, which initially took twice as long as expected. French aviation-parts supplier Zodiac Aerospace was late delivering business-class seats, which cost about $100,000 each, for new Boeing 787s headed to American Airlines. Zodiac also was late delivering seats and lavatory doors to Airbus for its A350 long-range jet, at a time when Airbus was sharply raising production of that plane in 2015.
Both Boeing and Airbus are making adjustments to cope, retooling factories and tightening oversight of their globe-spanning supply lines. Airbus may dedicate more resources to “supporting and understanding proactively possible hiccups with suppliers in the future,” said its CEO.
Classroom discussion questions:
- Why are the supply chains so hard to manage?
- Can Airbus and Boeing bring more manufacturing in-house?