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Airbus, the biggest factory of France

Last Sunday, March 27th, the French TV channel M6 played, within its programme 66 minutes, the documentary “Airbus, la plus grande usine de France” (Airbus, the biggest factory of France). It can be watched in the website of the programme here (it lasts about 47′, in French).

A380The documentary opened with amazing scenes of the transportation of A380 components by road to Toulouse, it then covered different scenes of life at Airbus in Toulouse: the A380 final assembly line, the preparation and execution of flight tests (with again the A380 as flight test bed to test the Trent XWB 97k engine), inspections by the airlines of the finished product at the delivery centre, the factory and the Airbus lycée at Saint Eloi for apprentices, the cabin mock-up centre, last-minute negotiations and payment process at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac (“le quartier chic”)… It provides a good view of the life in Toulouse around aviation, including details down to traffic jams, lunch at the canteen, checks at the security gates, etc.

It was good to see the documentary with the family as it let us show where we wander around along the year.

In this post, apart from sharing the documentary I wanted to reflect on its title, “Airbus, the biggest factory of France“.

Airbus Group (1) employs over 130,000 workers world-wide. Over half of those work for Airbus, the division which builds commercial airliners such as the A380. This was the subject of the documentary. Airbus employs about 30,000 workers in France, over 15,000 in the Toulouse area (2).

To put this into perspective I will refer to and wanted to share the following sources:

MapThe reports and listings published by the French business weekly magazine “L’Usine nouvelle“. You can see here the latest listing of the top 100 factories in France. Be sure of it, Airbus Toulouse is the biggest one, followed by Michelin in Clermont-Ferrand and PSA-Peugeot Citroën in Montbéliard (Airbus Helicopters in Marignane comes 5th).

Even better, they published a handy map downloadable here [PDF, 5.5 MB] with those top 100 factories. If you want to study geography of France, you’d better start with this map.

 

An old post I wrote about the “Impact of Airbus in Toulouse employment” making some numbers using the concepts of direct, indirect and induced employment to gauge the impact of Airbus in a mid-size city like Toulouse.

(1) Formerly EADS, which encompasses Airbus commercial airplanes, Airbus Defence and Space (including military transport aircraft (e.g. A400M), fighters (Eurofighter) and former Astrium) and Airbus Helicopters (former Eurocopter).

(2) Between Airbus Operations and Airbus SAS (the headquarters or “le quartier chic” as labelled in the documentary).

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The Age of Aerospace (documentary)

The age of aerospaceIn the past days, the first episodes of the documentary “The Age of Aerospace” were released. The documentary consists of a series of 5 episodes each one lasting about 45 minutes and divided in a few chapters. The series, produced by The Documentary Group, covers much of the history of aerospace with a special focus on The Boeing Company, which celebrates 100 years in this 2016.

The series is progressively released in Science Channel, Discovery Channel and American Heroes Channel. It can also be watched via streaming at the website created for the documentary, here.

So far, I have watched the first four episodes, find some notes and comments below:

1 – What Can’t We Do?

The episode covers the initial years of flight: the creation of Boeing, the hiring of Wong Tsu (its first aeronautical engineer, fresh from MIT), the air mail expansion, the creation of United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (including Boeing, Hamilton, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, United Air Lines… among others), its split after the Air Mail scandal and the investigation led by senator Black, the early retirement of William Boeing, the Boeing 247, the Clipper, the B-17 Flying Fortress.

2 – Miracle Planes.

This episode covers how WWII gave new life to Boeing. From having been wiped out in the commercial aviation by Douglas and having lost to Douglas the contest for a new bomber with the B-17, due to a crash of the prototype, to a new emergence due to Roosevelt’s call for mass production of defense assets: including the success of the Flying Fortress with over 12,000 units produced in 10 years (“some days you would see 8 to 12 coming out”). Black Thursday with the lost of dozens of B-17s and the finding of the need for fighter coverage; the North American P-51 Mustang (Göring: “When I saw Mustangs over Berlin, I knew the war was lost.”). The Big Week in early 1944 and D-Day. The need for a longer range bomber for the pacific, the B-29 Superfortress.

3 – Shrinking the Earth.

This episode covers the jet age, from the operation LUSTY (LUftwaffe Secret TechnologY), the revamp of the swept wing technology originated by Adolf Busemann, the Boeing B-47, the taking over as president of Boeing by Bill Allen, to its inclusion in commercial aviation: the Comet, the prototype Dash-80 (including Tex Johnson‘s unexpected promotional double barrel roll flight), the Boeing 707 (Pan Am’s Juan Trippe: “Tomorrow you will see in the press that I have invented the jet age“), and 747 (Boeing’s Joe Sutter to Trippe: “You are sitting on a 747 in this conference room“).

4 – In the Vastness of Space.

This episode covers the  Space race. From the first warnings of Soviet Union breaking of frontiers to the launch of the Apollo program, the accident of the Apollo 1, its investigation and the need for more supply chain oversight and systems integration, the successes of the Apollo 8 (orbit around the moon), the Apollo 11 (landing in the moon), the Space Shuttle, International Space Station…

5 – The Dreamliner.

(Yet to be released in streaming) [Updated on March 29, 2016]

This episode covers the launch and development of the Boeing 787, the Dreamliner, a “game changer”. The launch of new programmes put manufacturers future at a stake, and after Airbus’ launched the A380 in 2000, Boeing had to define its next move. It first intended to launch the Sonic cruiser, but the 9/11 attacks changed the landscape and Boeing’s bet changed from speed to the economics of flight. Boeing challenged the hub-and-spoke strategy and launched a middle-sized aircraft that could connect middle cities far away from each other more economically. The documentary covers as well other innovations introduced in this programme: extensive use of composite materials, design of large components outsourced to risk sharing partners (check out the images of the giant Mitshubishi’s autoclave), the development of the 747 Dreamlifter to transport sections between partners… It covers as well the development issues (sections not fitting, quality, rivets…), the 3-year delay, the first flight at the end of 2009, the first delviery to ANA and the issue with the Lithium-ion batteries which caused the fleet of 787 in-service to be grounded by the FAA in 2013 for four months (a first in Boeing’s history). This last chapter conveys quite well the size of the undertake that is the launching of a brand new airplane.

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I will conclude this review post recommending the documentary and leaving its 3-minute trailer:

 

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Bárcenas, la película.

Hace una semana finalmente pude ver “B, la película”, que es la adaptación al cine de una obra de teatro del mismo nombre sobre el interrogatorio que el juez Pablo Ruz hizo al extesorero y exgerente del Partido Popular Luis Bárcenas el 15 de julio de 2013.

La película, dirigida por David Ilundain y protagonizada por Pedro Casablanc (Bárcenas) y Manolo Soto (Ruz), dura aproximadamente 1 hora y 20 minutos y está basada en hechos reales, la transcripción del propio interrogatorio. En ese interrogatorio Bárcenas se retracta de sus anteriores declaraciones y confiesa que los famosos “papeles de Bárcenas” publicados por El País y El Mundo son verídicos, se corresponden a apuntes contables suyos durante 20 años como tesorero y gerente del partido, reflejan los movimientos de la caja B del partido, la continua financiación ilegal del mismo, el pago ilegal de sobresueldos a los cargos del partido (incluyendo Mariano Rajoy), etc. Corrupción, corrupción, corrupción.

“B, la película” fue financiada a través de crowdfunding, vía con la que consiguieron obtener 56.000 €. Se puede ver en algunos cines, aunque tampoco ha tenido mucho éxito en cuanto a la proyección en salas (imagino el por qué), y a través de internet. Yo la “alquilé” para un visionado durante 48 horas por tan solo 3 euros en Vimeo a través de un enlace de la página web de la película (aquí).

Toda la película se desarrolla en la sala donde el interrogatorio tiene lugar (como si fuese “Doce hombres sin piedad”). No tiene desperdicio la interpretación de Casablanc (Bárcenas): su firmeza en el cambio de versión de la declaración, el lujo de detalles y memoria privilegiada para el recuerdo de algunas cifras, fechas y leyes de financiación de partidos, y el vago recuerdo en otras, su dignidad en el trato y descripción de algunos personajes y repugnancia hacia Maria Dolores de Cospedal. También Soto (Ruz) tiene una interpretación encomiable, en este caso su cara de estupefacción en varios momentos por lo que oye del acusado. Imagino que las caras que pondría el propio Ruz no serían muy diferentes.

Además de recomendar el ver la película, os dejo aquí debajo el tráiler de la misma:

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“A good landing” (speech)

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about a speech I gave at the then prospective Toastmasters club that some colleagues were pushing to set up within Airbus in Toulouse. Yesterday, we had the 48th session of the club. And yesterday, the club president (Sarah) announced that the club, Airbus Speakers Toulouse, is now a chartered club (1). For this achievement, I wanted to congratulate our colleague Eduardo, who a few months ago left Toulouse for Seville:

Coincidentally, yesterday I was giving a speech at the club. It was the second project of the advanced manual “Speeches by Management” (2), that is “The Technical Speech”. I had to convert a technical paper into a speech, use a technique called “inverted-pyramid” and effectively read out the speech. This was a challenge in the sense that, since long time ago, I don’t use notes for the speeches I prepare. I don’t like it. And this time, I didn’t need them either. But as part of the exercise I forced myself to use them, in order to practice for a situation in which I might need them. That is Toastmasters: practice, practice, practice. (3)

In order to read out the speech, the manual gave tips on how to write the speech in paper: large fonts, short sentences, bottom of each page blank, etc., very useful tips. See below how for a 10-minute speech, about 1,000 words (4), it took 7 pages, instead of about 2 that it would have normally taken (find here the speech) [PDF, 623 KB].

A good landing

Above you can see how I made some grammar corrections, how I deleted some sentences which did not sound well, how I annotated some instructions (e.g. to distribute copies of the paper), how I emphasized some words and… how I introduced some last-minute adaptations. In Toastmasters’ meetings we normally have a word of the day which speakers should strive to introduce in their speech. Yesterday’s one was split. You can see how upon discovering it at the beginning of the meeting, I scanned my speech and located the 3 places in which I would insert it (which I did in the delivery). 🙂

In our club, we not only have a word of the day but we have a theme of the day, picked by the Toastmaster of the day (5). Yesterday’s theme was Hollywood. You can see how, as soon as I learned about the theme, I decided to make reference of a movie which featured Chuck Yeager (6) as I was quoting a couple of sentences from him. Funny enough, I had learned about that movie thanks to my brother Jaime just a couple of days before.

The speech talks about safety in general aviation, putting the emphasis on precautionary landings when the situation deteriorates. The idea of the speech comes from a safety note published by my flying instructor, Thierry, some time ago in the internal bulletin of the aeroclub. He referred then, and I do so in my speech, to a couple of studies from the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), principally one called “Objective: Destination” [PDF, 318 KB].

Finally, see below the video of the speech.

The recording starts about 30″ after the speech started and the quality is not very good. A good part of the image is taken by the table in which the camera rests and the light is not optimal. The sound is not great either, as neither is my vocalisation. In fact, that was one of the criticisms that I got, as part of a generally good feedback (7): I should vocalise more clearly. Nevertheless, I must say that I enjoyed delivering it.

(1) That is in Toastmasters language that we are an official club within the organization.

(2) From the version of 2009, as I have later learned that manual contents and organization have changed since then.

(3) By the way, for this speech: I had it written 4 days ahead of the meeting. I rehearsed it 8 times. Seven of them having Luca as an attentive mentor.

(4) At my speaking pace.

(5) The master of ceremonies in Toastmasters language.

(6) A NASA flight test pilot.

(7) Feel free to comment and provide feedback below :-).

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Patrouille de France, Francazal 2014

Yesterday I wrote about the air show in Francazal last Sunday. I finished that post with the following picture:

La Patrouille de France, beginning of the show.

La Patrouille de France, beginning of the show.

… and this comment:

Other day, I will devote one post just with a video of the Patrouille de France performance.

… enjoy it here:

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Years of Living Dangerously

In the past weeks I wrote a couple of blog posts related to climate change: “The Age of Sustainable Development” (a review of an online course I took) and “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” (a book review). In April 2014, at the time I was finishing the course and reading the book, thanks to an old friend I got to know about the documentary television series “Years of Living Dangerously“.

The series focuses on climate change and counts with 9 chapters (though I got to see only one, as living in France I found no way to watch further chapters at that time, the first chapter is free in Youtube). Among the executive producers are James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The episodes feature scientists, journalists (Thomas Friedman), activists and several celebrities (Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Jessica Alba…).

The first chapter, “Dry Season”, discusses droughts in the USA, deforestation in Indonesia and the connection of a drought with civil unrest and civil war in Syria. The chapter features Harrison Ford and Tom Friedman, who is the author of the book I mentioned in the introduction, thus many of the topics he touched I had already read.

I recommend the watching of the series, at least this first chapter I saw (I’ll find the moment and way to watch others):

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Ballesteros (the movie)

I have never been a big fan of golf and in fact I have only played a few times starting in 2012 during a trip to Scotland. Thus, the phenomenon of Severiano Ballesteros if not unnoticed never fully touched me.

Earlier this month I spent some days resting in the village of Comillas (Cantabria, Spain). There we witnessed the preparation of the set and the filming of a movie. We heard that the crew had a British accent and then lunching in a terrace we learnt that the movie was about the life of Ballesteros.

I then, searched in the web about the movie project. I found several articles and read a couple from The Independent and Today’s Golfer.

The movie is produced by BAFTA award-winning Stephen Evans. The £5m movie project is running late as it was initially supposed to be already released, and now is expected for 2014, after over  5,000 hours of footage. It will tell the life of the golfer from its youth in Cantabria. While reading about the movie I found some sentences that catched my attention:

“He had one of the most fascinating childhoods I have ever come across. It is almost straight out of Charles Dickens.”

“If you don’t understand Seve’s formative years then you can’t possibly grasp why he became the man he did.”

“Like (Ayrton) Senna, Seve transcends his sport and like Senna, Seve was incredibly handsome and charismatic, but unlike Senna, Seve was not handed everything on a plate.”

“Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are all wonderful players, but that is all they are. There is no real story, so if you tried to make a movie about them people would fall asleep. Seve is different.

I have never seen such a display of triumph and joy in my life. It was incredible, amazing and electric.”

Seve Ballesteros, Spanish golfer (by Peter from Liverpool, UK).

Spanish media tends to elevate sportsmen to the highest quite rapidly after some victories, thus I still wanted to check just a few figures of majors won. Ballesteros won 5: 2 Masters (1980, 1983) and 3 times The Open Championship (1979, 1984, 1988). In the last 50 years, only eight (8) players have won 5 or more majors: Gary Player (9), Jack Nicklaus (18), Arnold Palmer (7), Lee Trevino (6), Tom Watson (8), Nick Faldo (6), Tiger Woods (14) and Phil Mickelson (5).

I obviously missed something. I am now looking forward to see that movie.

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