Airbus (Toulouse, France) announced on Nov. 10 that the late arrival of “some key composite and detailed parts” has delayed the start of Final Assembly Line (FAL) activities for its A350 XWB (Xtra-Wide Body) midsize commercial passenger jet. FAL is now expected to begin sometime in the first quarter of this year. As a result, entry into service will be delayed six months and has been rescheduled for the first half of 2014.
Airbus noted that pre-FAL activities have begun (top photo) but said the delay is in place to ensure, from this point, a trouble-free transition into production.
“It is our top priority to reach the highest levels of part readiness before aircraft sections enter our Final Assembly Line in Toulouse,” says Didier Evrard, head of the A350 XWB program, in explanation of the delay’s duration. “In this context, the maturity of components will be further enhanced to ensure smooth ramp-up capability.”
Four days after the A350 FAL announcement, Airbus received an order for 50 of its re-engined A320neo passenger jets from aircraft leasing company Aircraft Lease and Finance Co. (ALAFCO, Kuwait City, Kuwait).
In other Airbus news, the company announced on Nov. 13 that, 20 years after its maiden flight, A340 jetliner production has come to an end. Citing “changing market dynamics” as the determining factor in the decision, Airbus says the stoppage applies to all four versions of the plane: A340-200, A340-300, A340-500 and A340-600. Although Airbus will not build new A340s, it says it will continue to support the existing global fleet of A340s as long as any are still in operation.
Meanwhile, The Boeing Co. (Chicago, Ill.) ended its best sales week ever on Nov. 18, with orders and commitments for 359 airplanes. The company also announced two record-setting deals with Emirates Airline (Dubai, U.A.E.) and Jakarta, Indonesia-based Lion Air, as well as other deals during and after the Dubai Airshow, which ended Nov. 17. U.S. President Barack Obama was on hand in Bali, Indonesia, at the signing ceremony between Boeing and Lion Air (bottom photo), as the latter committed to buy 29 Next-Generation 737-900ERs and 201 737 MAXs, a re-engined version of the 737 designed for maximum fuel economy (see HPC’s 737 MAX story, at right). The Boeing/Lion Air pact includes purchase rights for an additional 150 airplanes. Further, Aviation Capital Group (ACG, Newport Beach, Calif.) committed to buy 35 737 MAX airplanes and finalized a firm order for 20 Next-Gen 737-800s.
Also a hot ticket was the Boeing 777. Emirates Airline ordered 50 777-300ERs, with options for 20 more; Singapore Airlines (Singapore) finalized an order for eight 777-300ERs. Qatar Airways (Doha, Qatar) ordered two 777 freighters. And another unidentified customer ordered eight 777s. The week’s activities set a Boeing record for 777 orders in a single year, with 192 by the end of the airshow, and more than a month remaining in 2011. That total surpasses, by far, the previous 777 order record of 154, set in 2005.
Finally, Oman Air (Sultanate of Oman) ordered six 787-8s that were once destined for ALAFCO. It was the first order taken in 2011 for the composites-intensive 787 Dreamliner, the order list for which stands at 819 aircraft.