What Grounded the Airbus A380? (Cadalyst Daily Archive)

5 Dec, 2006 By: Kenneth Wong

Company management and CAD software both under fire in an interoperability debacle of jumbo proportions


Why isn't the Airbus A380 taking off on time? According to a variety of media, it's tangled in a bunch of electrical wire harnesses -- 530km of cables, 100,000 wires and 40,300 connectors, to be exact. According to, "[Airbus] engineers in Germany and Spain stuck with an earlier version of Paris-based Dassault Systemes' CATIA design software, even though the French and British offices had upgraded to CATIA 5. That meant the German teams couldn't add their design changes for the electrical wiring back into the common three-dimensional digital mockup being produced in Toulouse. ..." ("Airbus Vows Computers Will Speak Same Language After A380 Delay").p>

In blogs, aerospace insiders and CAD users picked up the topic where the press left off. Whether puzzled, outraged or bemused, most bloggers eventually get drawn into the same debate: Is the root cause the CAD modeling system or management oversight? (See "A380 Delay-Is It Really CATIA" at, "Disaster Stories" at WorldCAD Access, and "Lessons for All CAD Users" at According to some experts, it's both -- and it'll take both to prevent such debacles in the future.  


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About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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