Minggu, 29 Mei 2011

The “fathers” of Airbus

Throughout the 1960s, firms like France’s Sud Aviation and the British Aircraft Corporation planned new aircraft with the aim of catering for the growth in demand for air travel. Sud Aviation’s Galion was to be a 200-seat widebody, while BAC talked of a similar-capacity BAC 2-11. Britain’s Hawker Siddeley Aviation planned a twin-engine stretch version of the Trident. Hawker Siddeley Aviation also carried out joint studies with French firms Nord Aviation and Breguet for a widebody named the HBN 100.
Yet it was becoming clear that if all these aircraft were built, none of them would sell enough to make it viable. They would be competing against one another in the same market. Only if Europe combined the considerable talents and expertise which existed in individual companies and nations and put them into one aircraft to compete directly against the Americans – who held more than 80 per cent of the world market - could there be any hope of success.

Within days of the July 1967 meeting, a brilliant French engineer, Roger Béteille, was appointed technical director of the A300 programme. Henri Ziegler, president of Sud Aviation, was later named general manager of what would become Airbus Industrie and a German politician, Franz-Josef Strauss, was made chairman of the supervisory board. These men were to become known as the “fathers” of Airbus, along with a man whose skills Béteille recognised at once: Felix Kracht, a young German engineer, who had been working for Nord Aviation but was about to join the German Airbus group as head of sales and marketing. Kracht, who later described himself more as the “midwife” of the Airbus manufacturing system than as a father of the company, took on the role of production director: overseeing and co-ordinating the job of building the A300.

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