Airbus, Un Succes Industriel Europeen: Industrie Francaise et Cooperation Europeenne, 1965-72

Article excerpt

Emmanuel Chadeau (ed.), Airbus, un succes industriel europeen: industrie francaise et cooperation europeenne, 1965-72, Editions Rive Droite, Paris (1995), 197 pp., 120 francs.

The French Institute of Industrial History has edited, with support from the Industry Minister, Airbus Industrie and Aerospatiale, the papers of a 1994 colloquium directed by Professor Emmanuel Chadeau, a specialist in aircraft history. The papers deal with the creation of Airbus Industrie in 1969, and their authors were the main decision-makers of this European industrial co-operation programme in the 1960s. Their contributions are followed by several debates, then by two workshops dealing with the most recent years. These texts are complemented by sixty pages containing a statistical appendix, a chronology, a bibliography and an index.

In his introduction Professor Chadeau stresses the strong influence of aircraft builders and the market on the launching of the European Airbus programme between 1965 and 1970, in contrast to the Anglo-French Concorde programme that preceded it. The Concorde programme, launched in 1962, resulted from a political decision of the French and British governments, giving priority to performance and prestige over profit. Concorde was an engineer's dream but was to become a managers' nightmare. It involved the principal aircraft manufacturers of the two countries, Sud-Aviation and SNECMA in France, BAC and Bristol-Siddeley Engines in Britain. After the failure of the Comet, British manufacturers had to retrieve their reputation. The French, under De Gaulle's presidency, were also seeking a new `flag flyer', some kind of super-Caravelle. The name, Concorde, was meant to herald the beginning of a new era in Anglo-French relations. Concorde was conceived in an era when aircraft were still regarded as glamorous but was delivered in another, when air transport had become an industry.

The Boeing 747 `jumbo jet' was announced as forthcoming in 1966, only ten years after the first jet airliners. …