To John Leahy, consultants who warn of a perilous orders bubble are the equivalent of armchair generals, spouting sceptically on an armyâ€™s military achievements from the comfort of their firesides while the real generals do the hard work of winning the war. â€œThey donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re talking about,â€ he scorns.
Colleagues of Airbusâ€™s top salesman may have a harder job convincing the supply chain. While a Âbubble-burst would be a headache for the airframers, it could be fatal for small firms that have spent heavily on machinery, buildings or staff to meet the ramp-up, as they would find themselves with unsustainable costs.
But without investment from the supply chain, ÂAirbus admits it cannot raise output to meet current Âdemand â€“ to a rate of 50 and beyond on the A320 alone. Persuading suppliers the airframer is serious about its ambitions is the job of chief operating officer Tom ÂWilliams. He says Airbusâ€™s transparency, in happily disclosing orderbook details to suppliers, and credibility â€“ it claims a flawless record in meeting production targets and not building whitetails â€“ will win the day.
While the ramp-up represents a huge opportunity for the global supply chain, from mom and pop firms making specialised sub-components to big integrators, some wariness is inevitable when it comes to betting the business on an orderbook that cannot keep growing exponentially. But when to apply the brakes?