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Frederic's Bookshelf

Joined 4 months ago

Sharing insightful things from books I'm reading.

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Pierre Sparaco: Airbus : La véritable histoire (Privat) No rating

When Airbus proposed a cockpit for 2 pilots in the A320 instead of 3, pilot unions revolted.

Airbus was convinced that automation and state-of-the-art electronic systems, and the "glass cockpit" (CRT screens) could really reduce the pilots' workload and therefore making it as safe to fly with 2 pilots than with 3.

Pilots regretted their lack of involvement in engineering meetings.

Pierre Sparaco: Airbus : La véritable histoire (Privat) No rating

The story of the first Airbus sold to the US is nuts.

Originally, Western Airlines in the US, based in LA, was going to order an Airbus in 1975. But shortly after announcing their intent to purchase an A300B1, the airline was bullied into choosing American aircrafts, and not European ones.

For Airbus to be able to get in the protective US market, they had to create a deal that was too good to be true. They offered Eastern Airlines 4 "trial" aircrafts for 6 months. The airline would only paying for training and operational fees.

It worked. It led to an order for 23 aircrafts the next year, and options for many more. Airbus cracked the US market.

Pierre Sparaco: Airbus : La véritable histoire (Privat) No rating

Today I learned that Boeing had considered using a 747 body during the 1973 oil crisis to convert it to a hydrogen-powered aircraft with support from NASA. The plane's large fuselage was particularly well suited for such a project. But it did not end up going anywhere because airlines wanted immediate solutions.

Pierre Sparaco: Airbus : La véritable histoire (Privat) No rating

One thing that I did not appreciate as much before reading this book is to what extent engine design is driving the timeline of the development of a new aircraft.

The situation is a bit similar to SoCs, if you have a Snapdragon chip with specific characteristics, that defines what kind of smartphone you can build around it.

If you want a new disruptive airplane/smartphone, the engineering of the engine/SoC will be what will be driving your product timeline.

Airbus A300 early studies started around engines that were already manufactured for other aircrafts because Rolls-Royce and the UK government made the wrong bet to think that the RB211 project for Lockheed was going to be more successful than Airbus and cancelled the RB207 project.

Pierre Sparaco: Airbus : La véritable histoire (Privat) No rating

One thing that I did not appreciate enough until reading the book is how little the UK actually cared about creating a European aerospace company, unlike the French and Germans.

The UK was participating in Airbus International's A-300 program only to keep a foot into the door in case their own BAC Two-Eleven and Three-Eleven would not work out. Even Rolls-Royce was not really taking Airbus seriously, constantly delaying the project and not allocating much ressources to it, while claiming otherwise in tripartite meetings with the French and Germans.