Airbus Discontinues A340 And A350 Sees Further Delays


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Airbus Discontinues A340 And A350 Sees Further Delays

By Mike Mitchell

November 11, 2011 - Airbus has reported that it will push back plans for market entry of the A350 XWB for as much as six months due to difficulties in getting aircraft parts. This is the second delay for the aircraft manufacturer, attempting to avoid the same mistakes it made with the A380 double-decker program.  

The A350 will be the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer which is increasingly becoming the material of choice for aerostructures thanks to its low weight and excellent corrosion-free properties. It will carry 270 to 350 passengers in three-class seating, depending on variant (see GAO safety concerns over composite materials). 

Airbus reports assembly of the A350 will begin in the first quart of 2012 rather late 2011. Delivery of the first A350 is expected mid summer of 2014 instead of 2013.

The delays will cost the company about $271 million, EADS Chief Financial Officer Hans Peter Ring said ?We?ve not yet flown the aircraft ? we have a lot of years to go before ramp up so this is what we know today.? As of 30 September 2011, 567 orders had been placed for the new aircraft. Development costs are projected to be over US$15 billion. Airbus has shipped the first A350 XWB fuselage section by sea from Premium AEROTEC in Nordenham to Hamburg.

Premium AEROTEC is delivering an assembled A350 XWB fuselage section 13/14 to Airbus for the first time. After being completed in Nordenham, the first section left the plant and was prepared for shipment by sea to Hamburg. Securely packaged in a special transport container, Premium AEROTEC?s largest A350 XWB component rolled out of the assembly hall and on to the plant?s dock.

Airbus terminated production of its four-engine A340 jet which began in 1993, as a result of Boeing?s twin-engine 777 models. Airbus reported terminating the program will lead to a $261 million savings. The Airbus A340 held the record for the longest civil aircraft until Boeing came out with the 747-8 jumbo jet. 

Bertrand Grabowski, managing director of the transport group at DVB Bank SE, among the biggest aircraft financiers in Europe said ?In an environment where the fuel price is high, the A340 has had no chance to compete against similar twin engines, and the current lease rates and values of this aircraft reflect the deep resistance of any airlines to continue operating it?. 

Boeing?s 747-8 is a wide-body jet, a fourth-generation Boeing 747 version, with lengthened fuselage, redesigned wings and improved efficiency. The 747-8 is the largest 747 version, the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States, and the longest passenger aircraft in the world. 

The 747-8 is offered in two main variants the 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8I) for passengers and the 747-8 Freighter (747-8F) for cargo. Delivery of the first freighter aircraft was delayed before occurring in October 2011, passenger model deliveries are to begin in 2012.

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