CAD Nightmare Continues To Haunt Airbus

By Doug Bartholomew Print this article Print

French securities regulator to file charges against the makers of Airbus stemming from delay due to CAD software snafu.

It seems old software blunders never die. At least that’s the way it must feel at Airbus, the aerospace manufacturing unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. (EADS).

Earlier this week, French stock market regulators said they would press insider trading charges against 15 present and former executives at EADS and Airbus as a result of an investigation into manufacturing delays and cost overruns in its A380 double-decker, superjumbo jet program.

The manufacturing snafu the company encountered in the latter half of 2006, which Airbus figured cost the company $6 billion in lost profits, stemmed in large part from the four-nation aerospace consortium’s botched use of computer-aided design (CAD) software. The use of two different versions of the same CAD program, Dassault Systèmes Catia, at its jet manufacturing operations in France and Germany led to wiring harnesses that didn’t fit, causing the A380 superjumbo to be delayed by two years.

Following an Airbus announcement on June 13, 2006, that the superjumbo project was having manufacturing difficulties, EADS shares plunged 26 percent in one day. Additional delays were announced in September and October of that year.

France’s Autorité des Marchés Financiers also announced it will file insider-trading charges against French media group Lagardère SCA and German auto manufacturer Daimler AG, which sold part of their EADS holdings in April, 2006. French securities authorities are investigating whether EADS executives, board members and shareholders knew about troubles with the A380 before the announcements of difficulties were made.

The French government holds a 15 percent stake in EADS. Lagardère owns 7.5 percent. Daimler is the largest EADS investor, with 22.5 percent.

This article was originally published on 2008-04-03
Doug Bartholomew is a career journalist who has covered information technology for more than 15 years. A former senior editor at IndustryWeek and InformationWeek, his freelance features have appeared in New York magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. He has a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.
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