The client

Airbus manufactures the A-400M, a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, which it sells to air forces worldwide, including the Royal Airforce, where it has largely replaced the Hercules Airbus.

Airbus Military UK was established to maintain fleets of A-400M on behalf of the RAF and several other air forces.

The challenge

An automatic problem-detection technology introduced to the aircraft had increased the number of reported quality and safety issues. The fleet, based at RAF Brize Norton, was experiencing low levels of airworthiness, with insufficient numbers of the RAF’s 18 aircraft being available for use at any given time.

This impacted the RAF’s ability to respond to strategic and operational challenges. Airbus Military UK was under pressure from the RAF and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to address the situation.

What we did

Airbus Military UK engaged Change Associates to create a programme to improve the operating model and processes, make step changes in the supply chain, and work with the senior team to create a positive and productive culture.

This new culture was focused on continuous improvement and quality management. To achieve this ethos, a change in the leadership approach of the senior team was required. We partnered with a coaching firm to make this happen.

We put together a comprehensive programme, which included a stakeholder management and communication plan. This was particularly complex and sensitive as key stakeholders included the RAF, the MOD and their partners, and internal Airbus Military and Airbus Head Office contacts.

Our consultants used communication, engagement, and change management to ensure all stakeholders, including outsourced partners, played their part in the initiatives to improve the fleet’s airworthiness.

The result

  • The Airbus Military team significantly improved the airworthiness of the A-400M fleet. Within one year of the end of the transformation programme, the majority of the aircraft was airworthy.

  • This enabled Airbus Military UK to play a vital role in transporting personal protective equipment (PPE) into the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic, where things had to happen at a pace and intensity not seen in peacetime.

  • Airbus Military CEO Ian Burrett credits the transformation programme as critical to the company’s improvements in operational effectiveness and ability to respond effectively to the crisis.


Image (c) Pixabay | Ronald-Kotz


You and your colleagues can take pride in having been an important part of that journey. Thank you!

Ian Burret, Airbus CEO