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Airbus Helicopters is gradually restarting production, implementing protection measures against the COVID-19 virus and facing a dramatic drop in the number of workers on site.
The entire factory in Marignane, France, closed for four days, beginning to resume activity on March 23. The OEM is using the principle that a work station does not reopen until it is deemed safe, a company spokesperson told Vertical. “We inspect area after area,” she says.
If the station is seen as not meeting the requirements, further work is conducted to bring it to the defined level of safety. “We work in close cooperation with unions,” the spokesperson said. The process is spread over two weeks and the final assembly lines have yet to restart.
Health and safety measures include social distancing, with lines drawn on the floor every 3.3 feet (one meter) in critical areas, such as around entrance turnstiles. Wherever possible, doors are kept open all day. Hand disinfectant has been made available where toilets with soap and water are too far.
Employees are directed to work on distant areas on a helicopter. When this is impossible, such as for flight testing, they use masks.
Two shifts have been put in place and they are required not to meet. A three-hour period is dedicated to cleaning between the two. Cleaning operations are performed by the usual contractor.
As of March 23, only 15 perent of Airbus Helicopters employees in Marignane were working on site. Another 50 percent were working from home. Since then, the numbers have evolved marginally, according to the spokesperson.
As for the design office, some engineers are on site, typically to access those computers with powerful design software programs like Catia.