Review by Charles Page.
In this addition to the well-illustrated ‘Legends of Flight’ series, Schiffer maintains its high standard of production. The author displays an intimate knowledge of the Airbus consortium, and the history and structure of Airbus is fully explained, aided by a detailed organisation chart. Yet it is a highly readable and attractive book, with excellent images, schematics and cutaway drawings.
The reader will find this 144-page hardback has a much broader scope than the title suggests. A concise chronology of Airbus is followed by how and why the Airbus system developed from its conception in 1965. With the involvement of Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain and the Netherlands, it was as much a way of uniting these countries, as ‘The time was ripe for a European aircraft.’ This was to be a 300-passenger airliner to meet the requirements of major European airlines, and hopefully overseas.
In Germany, there was already an aircraft manufacturing base in Hamburg, where Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm and their subsidiaries had constructed the Nord Noratlas, C160 Transall, Bolkow helicopter, and the Hansa Jet. Werner Blohm stated, ‘Without the Hansa Jet, today there would be no Airbus production in Hamburg.’
By 1969, airlines were satisfied with the A300B design, and orders were placed, with the first prototype flight in October 1972. The B2 was the first production model but, from 1974, the B4 became the ‘Success’ model. For Airbus to succeed, the logistics had to succeed, and components were flown from all over Europe in the swing-nose ‘Super Guppy’ and, from 1995, in the A300-derived ‘Beluga’. Even though all the A300 components were initially hand drawn, they fitted perfectly.
Airbus survived the ‘black period’ from 1975 to 1977 when no orders were placed. It was intent on building an airliner family and went on to develop the 200-seat A310 and the highly popular ‘Big Sister’A300-600 with its glass cockpit. These types ensured Airbus’ survival and its international market, including North America.
This attractive book is for anyone seeking understanding of the Airbus ‘system’ and its development over the years.
Leave a Reply