August 19, 2022

Airbus to Delay Delivery of Two A350 Jet Models

The new engine would also allow the plane, the 350-seat A350-1000, to compete more aggressively with Boeing’s long-range, twin-engine competitor, the 777-300ER, Airbus said.

In addition, Airbus said, delivery of the smallest plane in the twin-engine A350 family, the 270-seat A350-800, would be postponed by two years, to 2016, so the company could focus on building its top-selling version, the 314-seat A350-900.

The A350-900 is still expected to enter service before the end of 2013, Airbus said.

Airbus, the European rival to Boeing, and Rolls-Royce, the British engine maker, said they would jointly develop the largest version of the wide-body jet with an upgraded engine that could deliver up to 97,000 pounds of thrust at takeoff, making it the most powerful propulsion system ever built for Airbus. The previous design of the engine, the Trent XWB, had a takeoff thrust of 93,000 pounds.

Airbus said the added engine power would increase the maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft and extend its range on one tank of fuel by about 400 nautical miles, to 8,400 nautical miles — the equivalent to about an hour of flight — while burning 25 percent less fuel than Boeing’s 777-300ER, a 365-seat jet with a range of 7,900 nautical miles that entered service in 2004. The revamped plane would also be able to carry 4.5 tons of additional cargo, Airbus said.

Until now, Airbus has struggled to drum up demand for the A350-1000, having secured 75 orders from four airlines in four years. Those carriers — Emirates of Dubai, Etihad of Abu Dhabi, Qatar Airways and Asiana Airlines of South Korea — have urged Airbus to enhance the capabilities and the fuel efficiency of the plane.

John Leahy, Airbus’s chief salesman, said Airbus had consulted with the affected airlines about the delays and did not expect them to seek compensation for the later deliveries.

“Everything so far is consensual,” Mr. Leahy said at a briefing ahead of the Paris Air Show, which begins Monday. “Nobody is pounding the table and saying you’re breaching my contract.”

He said the enhancements would add about $9 million to the A350-1000’s list price of just under $300 million, but declined to say whether existing customers would pay the higher price.

Airline representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Airbus’s chief operating officer,  Fabrice Bregier, said that while the delays to the A350-1000 and the A350-800 would free up more engineers to work on the A350-900, the plane maker did not plan to accelerate production of the plane, which is expected to reach an assembly rate of 10 a month by 2018.

 Mr. Bregier said the number of design modifications needed to accommodate the new engines would be limited because Rolls-Royce had managed to enhance their power without increasing the 118-inch diameter of the turbine fan. The changes included a reinforced structure and modifications to the trailing edge of the wing as well as the air conditioning system and landing gear.

 He said he did not expect the changes to significantly affect the plane’s development costs, currently projected at $2.4 billion.

 Rolls-Royce is the only engine supplier to the A350 family of jets. Mr. Leahy said Saturday that Airbus had given Rolls-Royce an exclusive deal to build the engines for the A350-1000, but said the plane maker was still open to offering competing engines on its other A350 models, though none have been developed so far.

Mark King, president of civil aerospace at Rolls-Royce, said his company would absorb the added cost of developing the enhanced Trent XWB engine, though he declined to provide details.

“Clearly this is going to cost more than the 93,000-pound version,” Mr. King said. But he stressed that there was “significant” commonality with the existing design that the risk to Rolls-Royce would be limited.


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