After Airbus's announcement that they plan to discontinue A380 production in 2021 after the last orders are filled, how long will they have to guarantee the availability of A380 spare parts?

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    $\begingroup$ I don’t think the last delivery is important, all that matters a contracts and how many customers are willing to pay for spare parts. A passenger aircraft should fly for around 30 years. So this is a least a hint. Actually maintenance and the number of pressurization cycles matter. If you fly low enough, only spare parts matter. The DC3 or JU52 still fly. I think the B52s are flown seldom, so they are still in use after 50 years. Let‘s order an A380 and see what Airbus offers ;) $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Feb 16 '19 at 15:54

When a company decides to terminate the construction of a specific airplane, then this company needs to follow some conditions. In the contracts between Airbus and airline companies, there are many conditions concerning multiple aspects.

There are conditions for example about:

  • spare-parts availability
  • transfer knowledge about specific features of the airplane
  • training (not for all the occasions)
  • and more (we are not in a position to know them all and in detail)

These conditions are discussed in the beginning, before the signing of the contract. Of course, conditions may differ from one contract to the other, but I think you got the point behind this idea.

So there is no way that someone will tell you what will happen between Airbus and their clients because this information is confidential. As soon as, the clients of Airbus do not sue them, then their contracts are including mechanisms about this.

Lastly, these contracts most of the time are including basically conditions about safety or financial sections. There is coming the role of ICAO, IATA, EASA, FAA and more. These organizations are responsible for managing properly also the sector of safety/security. The fact that spare-parts availability is playing vital reason in the safety of the passengers among the world, then it is 100% sure that they also know about it and they know how to handle it.

Hope that I helped.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the word "regulations" might be confusing here because it makes people think about the legal regulations from the FAA, EASA etc. You seem to be referring to "requirements" or "conditions", which can be different in every contract. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Feb 16 '19 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ There is an aircraft company in our country, Indonesia. When that company sold one of the product (CN295) to Thailand in 1996, there is mentioned by commentator on tv, that one of the term and condition is that the company has to guaranty the sparepart availability for 50 years. Otherwise, the manufacturer will be sued and pay pinalty. Thats one most critical point in aircraft manufacture that it have to keep provide it component for so long. I believe, the same thing also applied to AirBus. Otherwise, the super jumbo will be not usefull after fly some hours. $\endgroup$ Feb 17 '19 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Aircraft Lover exactly! That's another example of what I said. This happened in many countries and for many companies. It's the most common way of signing a contract. $\endgroup$
    – avionerman
    Feb 17 '19 at 6:36
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    $\begingroup$ In the UK the A380 will only be able to operate on a Certificate of Airworthiness, and one of the conditions for the CAA issuing that is the support of the manufacturer. There are a number of 1930s and 1940s DeHavilland aircraft operating on CoAs, I guess BAE Systems must have picked up that obligation? $\endgroup$ Feb 18 '19 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ @avionerman - I'm not sure that a public sector aircraft would qualify as a 'State Aircraft' under the Chicago Convention, here's the EASA take on that: eurocontrol.int/sites/default/files/article/content/documents/… You can fly an aircraft on permits other than a CoA in the UK, but I think it would be difficult to get it covered by your Air Operator's Certificate en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_operator's_certificate $\endgroup$ Feb 18 '19 at 12:13

A redacted purchase agreement sample is publicly available on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's website. While the agreement is for an A320, it shows that [typical] agreements include a Seller Service Life Policy.


Subject to the general conditions and limitations set forth in Clause 12.2.4 below, the Seller agrees that if a Failure occurs in an Item before the Aircraft in which such Item has been originally installed has completed within █████ after the Delivery of said Aircraft to the Buyer, whichever shall first occur, the Seller will, at its discretion, as promptly as practicable and for a price that reflects the Sellers financial participation as herein after provided:


(i) design and furnish to the Buyer a correction for such Item and provide any parts required for such correction (including Seller designed standard parts but excluding industry standard parts), or
(ii) replace such Item

Basic stuff airlines can easy acquire or fabricate themselves are not covered by the policy, such as bearings:

Bearing and roller assemblies, bearing surfaces, bushings, (...) are excluded from this Seller Service Life Policy.

Basically it's top secret, but the airlines (and their lawyers) would typically make sure their planes will keep flying for as long as they want/possible and/or to retain their value when sold to other parties before the end of their life-cycles/hours.

Note that an end of production is not related to spare parts. Spare parts come from hundreds of suppliers, and are stocked. So just because Airbus won't be assembling big parts, doesn't mean they will abandon the small parts, especially their proprietary parts; money is to be made still.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the explanation. I realize that it is consider as secret by the airplane manufacturer. $\endgroup$ Feb 20 '19 at 2:23

Yes, there may be a time lapse during which airplane makers have a regulatory committment to provide spare parts, a Turboprop Canard having few sales forced the builder to start purchasing all remaining airplanes, it was cheaper to them than fulfilling the compromise to provide parts

  • $\begingroup$ A380 is a-hundreds million dollar price. So, there should be any guaranty from Airbus that they will provide the sparepart for the buyer. Otherwise, when the production is ceased, how the buyer will replace their faulty component? $\endgroup$ Feb 19 '19 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps not needed, if the spread of 3D Metal Printing, Additive Metal Manufacturing, Powder Metallurgy, allows airplane owners to produce the spare parts they need, this will ease problems for those having purchased a monster airplane, that turned 90º another plane on airport, with the wingtip, and sent to wreckage a business jet entering A-380 wingtip vortex. The Convair XC-99 case, rejected by airlines because of the load a sudden huge number of passengers would have imposed on airport facilities sounds similar. Salut +. $\endgroup$
    – Urquiola
    Mar 7 '19 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting. If a manufacture fabricate a component of a such as expensive airplane, there should be FAA and other authority's certificate, too, right? As in my understanding, certification is a long process, and very not easy. Would be another manufacturer allowed to provide the component without certification? $\endgroup$ Mar 8 '19 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Urquiola "Perhaps not needed, if the spread of 3D Metal Printing, Additive Metal Manufacturing, Powder Metallurgy, allows airplane owners to produce the spare parts they need"* This is not correct, at least not for safety-critical parts. These parts are qualified including their manufacture method, so replacing e.g. a cast aluminium part with a sintered or 3D printed one without the designer's approval would render the airframe not airworthy. $\endgroup$ Mar 6 '20 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ I guess there is a lot of evidence Metal 3D printed parts have same or higher quality than former cast and machined parts, so say airplane builders, who are implementing this method. About Aviation Authority Certification for parts, well, the decals to put on wings, indicating: 'No Step' were considered 'critical parts', to be purchased from airplane builder at prices over $100. Everybody had this warning hand painted. The part that fell down from a previous airliner on same takeoff strip, cause of Concorde destruction, was a 'non certified' pirate part! $\endgroup$
    – Urquiola
    Mar 6 '20 at 15:57

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