Paris Show Report – Airbus raises bar for A350-1000


Airbus and Rolls-Royce jointly announced at an EADS event just before the Paris show that they would develop a more ambitious version of the A350-1000, with 97,000lb thrust RR Trent XWB engines, to meet customer demand.
The aircraft will offer customers 4.5 tonnes more payload capability or 400 nautical miles of additional range than the original concept. Airbus Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier said the jetliner could now match the capabilities of the 777-300ER, but with 25 percent greater efficiency.
However, to achieve the increased performance, Airbus has pushed back the entry-into-service date of the aircraft by two years, to mid-2017, increasing its price by US$9 million. The -800 will also enter service later.
Many customers have transferred their orders from the -800 model to the -900, although Airbus insisted at the show that the -800 still has a future. Not all airlines were satisfied with the decision, however, with Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker calling for even better performance from the aircraft his company has ordered.
Following the Airbus-Rolls announcement, Boeing discussed possible enhancements to the 777, which would open up the performance gap once again. On the table are such upgrades as the as the 777+, with extended wings, and two other possibilities dubbed the -777-8 and -9X.
The US company is also planning an upgraded 787, known as the 787-10X, which would be 15 percent larger than the 787-9, according to Nicole Piasecki, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ vice-president of business development.
Boeing also said at the show that the 787 has completed 97 percent of its flight-test programme – ZA102 (the second production aircraft) will be used to complete testing, covering systems and extended operations.
[Byline:] – Ian Sheppard

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