Will US wait any longer?


Oct 16, 2003
ATW Daily News

Airbus considering further revisions, delays to A350
Wednesday October 25, 2006
Airbus is moving toward another radical rethink of its A350 XWB that may include a composite fuselage that will combat the 787 and leapfrog the 777-200ER.

According to Airbus insiders, the latest revision will push the A350's entry into service to at least 2014.

The manufacturer unveiled a radical upgrade of its A350 offering at the Farnborough Airshow (ATWOnline, July 18) with a cabin 12 in. wider than the A330 cabin cross-section and an all-new carbon fiber wing capable of Mach 0.85 cruise. However, key customer ILFC flagged caution. Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy told ATWOnline that Airbus has "pretty much done what we had asked but we haven't seen guarantees or pricing."

At the time, Udvar-Hazy also questioned whether the plane-builder would be able to take on both the 787 and 777 with a single platform. And he warned that "there are challenges for [just] one engine and one wing and there are still [engine] issues for the A350-1000 as airlines want two engine choices."

Early this month, then-CEO Christian Streiff admitted that Airbus was a decade behind Boeing (ATWOnline, Oct. 6), while parent EADS co-CEO Tom Enders conceded that the feasibility of the A350 XWB program was in doubt. EADS co-Chairman Louis Gallois backed the program on Oct. 11, a day after he replaced Streiff, saying on Europe 1 radio, "I believe that Airbus has to be present across the whole market, and the A350 is the middle of the market." He added that the midsize category accounts for "40% of the market" by value.

Insiders say the company will use the upheaval surrounding its massive Power8 restructuring plans--aimed at rectifying design and production inefficiences that have bedeviled the A380--to relaunch the A350 XWB with a composite fuselage after key customers told the manufacturer it "still [has] not done enough" to combat the 787. It had been looking at a larger XWB to better match the 777-300ER but that initiative, as alluded to by Udvar-Hazy, was taking the weight of the aircraft too far away from the 787-8.

by Geoffrey Thomas