Customer Story

Airbus’ “Greenhouse” Lets Users Build Custom Applications and Streamline Processes

 Customer Story – Airbus Greenhouse
130,000+ employees
Aerospace & Defense


  • Demand for Airbus aircraft is intense; the wait for fulfillment of new orders can be as long as 10 years
  • Airbus needed to modernize and upgrade its large, diverse set of legacy applications to improve performance and optimize production to meet fulfillment demands


Airbus inverted the traditional approach of relying on IT to implement changes and enhancements. Instead, it allowed users to develop their own applications in “the Greenhouse,” an IT-supported environment.


  • Centralized software for all PLM functions, minimizing context shifts
  • Ability to add new functionality as the organization grows
  • All product knowledge is accessible from a centralized digital thread backbone
  • Better collaboration and increased productivity

Airbus built an IT-supported environment called “the Greenhouse” using Aras Innovator. With the Greenhouse, users can develop custom applications and share them across the organization for streamlined engineering, testing, manufacturing, and quality assurance processes that deliver planes faster without sacrificing quality and safety.

“We created the Greenhouse capability and invited people to voluntarily come and bring their old and unsupported systems. We use new platform technology to quickly modernize and port their solutions to what we call a ‘PDM light’ backbone.”

Henrik Weimer, Senior Manager, PLM Strategy, Architecture, and Business Plan at Airbus

Pain Points

Airbus is the world’s second-largest aerospace and defense company. It designs, builds, delivers, and supports commercial aircraft, helicopters, and defense and space systems. The company employs more than 130,000 people in 180 locations worldwide.

Demand for Airbus planes is high. With customers enduring long waits (up to 10 years!) to receive their ordered aircraft, Airbus executives knew they needed ways to streamline their engineering, testing, manufacturing, and quality assurance processes so they could build and deliver planes faster — without sacrificing quality and safety.

PLM Requirements

With over 1,000 systems employed between engineering, testing, manufacturing, and quality, the Airbus IT team needed to modernize, upgrade, and integrate their applications for higher efficiency and better performance.

The team needed a PLM solution to help integrate the various systems across departments throughout the company. They also needed a flexible platform that offered functionality typically found in their disparate legacy systems, including PLM, Product Data Management (PDM), and Content Management Systems (CMS). Additionally, their solution needed to be easily customizable and updatable to support agile implementation and easy upgrades.

  • Ability to integrate multiple systems
  • Flexible system with broad functionality
  • Easily customizable and upgradeable for agile implementation

Successes with Aras Innovator

Airbus recognized that modernizing their multiple existing systems wasn’t the best approach. Instead, Airbus created “the Greenhouse” — an IT-supported environment where users across the company can update and enhance their own applications. The Greenhouse allows for real-time prototyping and rapid development for the modernization of applications. Airbus IT worked with users in the Greenhouse to help them quickly “grow” applications that users can share throughout the organization.

Airbus evaluated numerous solutions before choosing Aras Innovator as the Greenhouse’s enabling technology for the PDM backbone. Aras’ resilient platform is designed for agile implementation. With Aras’ model-based architecture, Airbus can easily upgrade its custom applications. Furthermore, since Airbus planned to continue using some existing PLM systems, the open nature of the Aras platform allowed for easy integration with those systems.

Results: The Greenhouse, powered by Aras, Drives Digital Transformation

The Greenhouse concept quickly caught on, and soon, projects began to flow in. Users quickly discovered that they could develop their projects in something akin to a traditional sandbox environment but with the security of the IT team’s guidance and support.

The first project brought to the Greenhouse was updating an application for Test Information Management. The project was completed quickly, validating the Greenhouse and PDM light backbone approach. Just five months after the initial development, Airbus successfully upgraded the project.

Not surprisingly, as word spread throughout the company about the various projects in the Greenhouse, more and more users wanted to try their hand at prototyping. As a result, Airbus IT has increased its capacity to meet the demand.

According to Henrik Weimer, Senior Manager, PLM Strategy, Architecture, and Business Plan at Airbus, the Greenhouse — with support from Aras’ resilient platform technology — has delivered three strategic benefits to Airbus:

  1. Engineering, manufacturing, test, and quality assurance teams have seen productivity improvements — resulting in aircraft delivered sooner than expected.
  2. The Greenhouse has given Airbus a cost-efficient, fast, and flexible way to modernize production systems.
  3. Innovative applications are quickly brought online, facilitating Airbus’ digital transformation.