A reader of upFront.eZine gave me his analysis of the Airbus A380 being delayed by a year. (He wishes to remain anonymous, because he is involved in the industry.)
There are several layers to the story, maybe even several stories to this huge story.
At the top level is the political component. This is massive European endeavor built around Franco-German government efforts. There is quite a bit of double-heading, with a French manager twinned with a German. That doesn't help any project.
There's the component of the stock options, which were exercised by top executives before the news broke, and looked like insider trading. When executives claimed that they weren't aware of the billion-dollar problems with the A380 it looked as if they didn't know what was happening in their own business. Thus, problems with the reporting structure.
There's another issue with poor portfolio management at Airbus. No airlie want the proposed midsize A350 [as a competitor to Boeing's Dreamliner]. As of last week there's yet another proposal to modify the A350.
As far as I know, the production problem with the wiring is physically located in Toulouse where the final assembly is being done. Maybe some harnesses are preassembled in Hamburg, but apparently most wiring is done in Toulouse. There are stories about the reason for the delay, in particular that the wiring time was underestimated. From the point of view of CAD and CAM, that's strange, as you would expect the manufacturing engineering part of the program to calculate the amount of wire required and the wiring time.
It looks as if there were problems with:
* The management approach.
* The product portfolio management program -- probably done on Excel!
*- The project management software -- probably not capable of handling enough detail on such a huge multi-site program.
- The CAD and CAM of the wiring. Airbus uses CATIA, which I don't think is all that strong on wiring. They may have had another CAD program for wiring, and there could have been problems with data exchange, which could have been the reason why they don't seem to have correctly estimated the wiring time. Lots of suppositions in there.
Perhaps the fault lies in these projects being too big -- unmanageable by both software programs and human supervisors.