Author: Bill Gunston, Hardbound, 288 Pages, H4585, ISBN: 9781844255856, 2nd Edition, Published in 2009
European plane-builder Airbus has established a global reputation that is second to none.
Its products have consistently set records for quality and reliability, new technology, operating economy and safety, and year on year often outsell mighty Boeing.
With constituent companies in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, Airbus is a multinational partnership. Another country that is deeply involved is the USA, which from the outset has played a major role in supplying engines, avionics and high-cost systems. For a much longer period Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia have been among the many countries contributing airframe parts.
In recent years China's rapidly growing industry has been assisted by subcontracting for Airbus, leading in 2008 to the opening of a Chinese A320 assembly line. The USA is now also scheduled to become home to a major Airbus assembly plant.
But it was not always like this: the Airbus success story has been a tale of eventual triumph over prolonged adversity. Political interference early in the life of the company by the British government almost led to BAC and Hawker Siddeley being written out of the Airbus partnership.
Bill Gunston tells the story of how the original Airbus A300B was conceived, how the international Airbus company was formed, and how it has now grown to become an aerospace giant. This fully revised and updated second edition includes all the prolific single-aisle aircraft that have followed the A320, the great new wide-bodies (the A330 and four-engine A340), the enormous A380 (an amazing saga dominated not by the technology but by politics and finance), the totally different A400M military airlifter and, not least, the extraordinary stop-start gestation of the A350.
Bill Gunston's 'inside story' is a tale without parallel of Europe's 'Boeing-beater'. Bill was a consultant in the original launch of Airbus, which required him to visit Toulouse regularly, ferried in a 125 which usually started at Chester, called at Hatfield, and then (to pick up Bill) at Dunsfold. It is a sad reflection on Britain's diminished role in aerospace that Hatfield and Dunsfold no longer exist.