Planemaker Scrambles For Answer To 787 Challenge
Are composites the
answer for Airbus? There is mounting evidence that Airbus thinks
This would be a radical departure for a company that's publicly
upbraided Boeing for its all-composite 787 Dreamliner. Airbus has
accused Boeing of "pushing the technology envelope" with the
Now, according to Bloomberg, Airbus is considering a composite
fuselage for the A350.
The A350 design has been through several different iterations
since it was first announced -- six to be exact. The latest came
earlier this year at the annual Farnborough Air Show when Airbus
announced plans for the A350 XWB, for extra-wide body.
Before flip-flopping on its abhorrence to all-composite
construction sometime after Farnborough, Airbus said the XWB was to
have a composite wing, but a metal fuselage. There were to be three
versions of the A350, but none would be ready for customer
deliveries before 2012.
Airbus has focused a great deal of energy and resources lately
on getting the troubled A380 program off the ground. Delivery dates
for the superjumbo have slipped a number of times and the program
is now two years behind schedule.
The beleaguered manufacturer has been steadily loosing ground to
rival Boeing in the mid-sized airliner market -- Boeing has more
than 400 firm orders for its 787 even though the aircraft has yet
This latest news from Airbus comes following recent statements
from Emirates that the A350 design is still lacking as regards the
airlines requirements. Emirates is to buy up to 100 mid-sized
airliners and is reportedly choosing between the A350 and 787.
Bloomberg's sources say Airbus will present the A350 design
changes to parent company EADS on Tuesday. Reportedly, development
costs on the program will increase $2 billion up to $12 billion,
and delivery dates will slip to 2013.
Many industry analysts believe the A350 is the only way for
Airbus to compete with Boeing for the mid-sized airliner market.
Emirates president Tim Clark told reporters if Airbus can't find a
way to compete with the 787 "...they'll be out of business."
Of course, all of the design changes Airbus has made to the A350
to date may prove moot if parent EADS isn't happy -- it has yet to
even approve the aircraft's development.