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16. February 2011

16 February 2011: A400M Maturity Gate Milestone Achieved

One of the most important industrial decisions on the A400M Programme was taken on 16 February 2011. The so called Maturity Gate Milestone was reviewed by an independent panel and as a result of this review the gate has now been passed. 

To understand the importance of the A400M Maturity Gate milestone it is necessary to explain that the milestone served, during 2010, to predict achievement of full rate manufacturing readiness, Type Certification and Initial Operation Capability of the A400M aircraft. A total of 99 criteria were fixed by seven key areas in the programme: Programme Management, Supply Chain, Customer Services, Quality, Industrial, Design and Commercial. Each area defined their own criteria together with measurable evidence and means of compliance. All criteria were faced and discussed under the coordination of Programme Quality.

The Maturity Gate process was reviewed at different and increasing levels within Airbus and Airbus Military during meetings in May, September and December 2010. OCCAR was always informed of the outcome of the review meetings. It was intended that the last review in December, Chaired by the Airbus COO, would be the occasion to formally pass the gate and to start activities related to the launching of production. However, a few remaining red lights meant that AMSL could not make a decision and a further review panel was planned for the beginning of 2011. 

The review held last Wednesday allowed the panel to remove the remaining red lights and announce that the Maturity Gate was formally passed in February 2011, following the closure of the issues raised in December. Of course, actions plans are ongoing to maintain production on the right path, especially for MSN007, and progress will be carefully monitored by OCCAR-EA. 

It should be highlighted that this process, specifically launched by the A400M programme, has been very welcomed within Airbus management and is considered a serious approach to declare a programme’s readiness for production. This approach is now considered an Airbus benchmark and has been adopted by other new Airbus programmes like A350 and Neo.