Fly­ing high in a chang­ing world: Air­bus COO

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Ships and planes - the two main forms of global travel, and one man's view­ing plat­forms for global de­vel­op­ment. Rafael Gon­za­lez-Ripoll's 40year ca­reer launched with the Span­ish navy and then 30-year in the Air­bus has taken him to the heights of China's bur­geon­ing avi­a­tion in­dus­try.

"Des­tiny drove me from ship­build­ing to plane man­u­fac­tur­ing," says the 63-year-old chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Air­bus China.

"Luck­ily, I en­joy changes and des­tiny has given me op­por­tu­ni­ties," Gon­za­lez-Ripoll said in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Xin­hua. "Avi­a­tion is the most amaz­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing thing. Why? Fly­ing makes a dif­fer­ence."

Af­ter the navy, he moved into ship­build­ing, and in 1986, he joined Span­ish air­craft-maker CASA, which later be­came the Span­ish branch of EADS, the pan-Euro­pean avi­a­tion gi­ant that was to change its name to Air­bus. Be­gin­ning as a safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal affairs of­fi­cer, Gon­za­lez-Ripoll now leads its op­er­a­tions in China as the coun­try em­barks on build­ing its own com­pet­ing air­craft in­dus­try.

He ar­tic­u­lated his sense of achieve­ment in ex­plain­ing his job to his grand­son as "mak­ing peo­ple fly".

The mul­ti­cul­tural com­pany has seen it adapt well to China, he said, cit­ing the ex­am­ple of the suc­cess­ful A350, the wide-body Air­bus pas­sen­ger air­craft that had its wings made in Spain and Ger­many to be as­sem­bled in Bri­tain. "Staff here have a sense of own­er­ship and be­long­ing, be­ing the owner of the group," he said.

"We open doors to peo­ple around the world to join Air­bus, mak­ing them see and work in a har­mo­nious way, and not judg­ing ac­cord­ing to their own cul­ture. It is chal­leng­ing, but un­doubt­edly ben­e­fi­cial."

The ap­proach has helped Air­bus de­velop rapidly as a late­comer in a highly com­pet­i­tive field

"To bridge dif­fer­ences, we just need to change po­si­tions," said Gon­za­lez-Ripoll. "We cre­ate an at­mos­phere that en­cour­ages all staff to sit at one ta­ble and to speak frankly." From his of­fice fac­ing the Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Gon­za­lez-Ripoll sees a con­stant stream of air­craft tak­ing off and land­ing, re­mind­ing him that the avi­a­tion in­dus­try re­quires to­tal de­vo­tion.

"I have two pas­sions in life: my 30 years in avi­a­tion and 40 years with my wife," he said.

Since be­com­ing COO of Air­bus China in Bei­jing in Jan­uary 2013, he has de­voted him­self to forg­ing a farvi­sioned strat­egy for Air­bus in China, a boom­ing civil avi­a­tion mar­ket and ris­ing avi­a­tion in­dus­try power.

The Air­bus in-ser­vice fleet for air­craft with more than 100 seats has grown from 6 per­cent of China's to­tal in 1994 to 50 per­cent to­day.

"Air­bus made a good de­ci­sion and in­jected huge re­sources to make it real. We did the right thing, bring­ing not only air­craft, but also tech­nolo­gies and chances," said Gon­za­lez-Ripoll. In July 2015, the com­pany launched its Com­ple­tion and De­liv­ery Cen­tre (CDC) in Tian­jin for cabin and fur­nish­ings fix­tures and liv­er­ies. In less than three years, Tian­jin will be the third cen­ter de­liv- er­ing both nar­row and wide-body Air­bus air­craft, af­ter its head­quar­ters in Toulouse, France, and Seat­tle, in the United States.

"In the near fu­ture, China will have its own civil­ian avi­a­tion in­dus­try. It comes from the govern­ment's de­ter­mi­na­tion, political will and money." The first China-de­vel­oped large pas­sen­ger jet, the C919, from the Com­mer­cial Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion of China Ltd. (CO­MAC), has en­tered the fi­nal as­sem­bly phase. A more am­bi­tious plan for a twin-aisle wide­body jet is in the pipe­line.

"China is on the right di­rec­tion. It takes time and de­ter­mi­na­tion. There are no short­cuts in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try. Safety is the lifeblood of avi­a­tion and no­body can find way around it," he said. "China is mak­ing the world's skies more dy­namic."

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.