Aircelle ships its 6,000th thrust reverser

The A320 commissioned by the China Eastern airline, delivered on May 16, 2012, is equipped with the 6000th thrust reverser produced by Aircelle. We took a look back at this outstanding industrial success with Vincent Mascré, Chairman and CEO of Aircelle.

In a nutshell, could you tell us about this program's history?
This thrust reverser was designed in the 1980s. It is highly distinctive with its four doors in the nacelle body that open when activated. Another innovative design aspect was the use of composites – around 15 percent at the time. On more recent thrust reversers, such as those used on the Airbus A380, composites now account for over 50 percent!

Thirty years of production – isn't this considered an exceptional success?
Thirty years may seem like a very long time but it is actually quite common in the aeronautics sector for equipment ensuring a high level of satisfaction to be manufactured over several decades. An aeronautics program is considered to be a great success when it outstrips its designers' expectations by far, which is indeed the case of our thrust reverser. At the outset of the program, we anticipated manufacturing a total of 400 reversers at a rate of four per month. We have now passed the 6,000 milestone and produce 40 per month. And we still have a further 2,500 to produce…

Has today's thrust reverser undergone any changes in the last thirty years?
No, it's still basically the same because it is perfectly suited to customer demand. We have however fine-tuned our industrial process to cope with the increased output. The production line is now the best in the industry with short cycles and the implementation of modern industrial principles such as just-in-time and lean manufacturing.

Which teams have contributed to this success?
The teams working on the assembly line at the Le Havre site in Normandy, backed by the specialists in the Composites sector, the employees in support functions and a part of the workforce at the Casablanca plant in Morocco. It's a great adventure that will in fact be continuing with the A320neo jetliners for which we shall be responsible for the complete nacelle to be mounted on the CFM International Leap-X1A engine.

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