June 2006 
Volume 05, Issue 2  
Industry Wrap

Rethinking it

Airbus reportedly considering redesign of A350

Rethinking itIn response to customer feedback and the success of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus is working on another redesign of its forthcoming A350 mid-size passenger airplane, news reports said.

According to the magazine Flight International, three versions of the redesigned A350 are expected. Each is intended to compete against Boeing models:

  • The A350-800, which will carry about 250 passengers, is aimed at the 787-3, -8 and -9.
  • The A350-900, with about 300 seats, is pitted against the 777-200ER and potential 787-10.
  • The A350-1000, with seating for around 350, is intended to compete against the 777-300ER.

Although the current iteration of the A350 is based on the A330-200, a redesigned A350 would be an all-new airplane, news reports said.

Compared to the most recent A350 version, the redesigned A350 will offer a wider fuselage cross-section, a larger all-composite wing, a higher cruise speed of Mach 0.85 and more powerful engines, Flight International said. The cost for developing an all-new A350 would be about 8 billion euros ($10 billion), news reports said.

According to the Bloomberg news service, a redesigned A350 would first become available in 2012. That's two years later than current A350 plans call for and four years after the 787's scheduled entry into service.

An Airbus spokesman told the Financial Times the company "is listening to customers, studying the options and will decide [on possible changes to the A350] by midyear. No decision has yet been made." Various reports indicated an official announcement could come during July's Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom.

So far, Airbus has booked about 100 A350 orders. Meanwhile, Boeing has booked 393 orders and commitments from 29 customers for the superefficient, advanced-technology 787.

Boeing representatives appeared unfazed by talk about a redesigned A350.

"From the beginning of the 787 program we fully anticipated that [Airbus] would have a viable competitor,"' said Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing, in the Bloomberg report. "It'll be interesting to see what they do."


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