Airbus delays A350, ends production of A340

Citing delay of some composite parts, Airbus has pushed A350 start of final assembly line activities to first quarter 2012, and entry into service to the first half of 2012. Changing market dynamics have forced Airbus to cease A340 production.

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Airbus (Toulouse, France) announced on Nov. 10 that pre Final Assembly Line (FAL) activities of the A350 XWB have started, although with some delay due to the late availability of some key composite and detailed parts. The start of the FAL is now scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. Entry into service is now delayed six monthd and rescheduled to first half 2014 to ensure smooth production ramp-up capability.

“It is our top priority to reach the highest levels of part-readiness before aircraft sections enter our Final Assembly Line in Toulouse. In this context the maturity of components will be further enhanced to ensure smooth ramp up capability,” said Didier Evrard, head of the A350 XWB Programme.

The A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) Family is Airbus’ all-new, long-range, composites-intensive product line comprising three models capable of flying between 270 and 350 passengers in typical three-class layouts on flights of up to 8,500 nautical miles. Airbus forecasts a demand over the next 20 years for around 6,425 new twin-aisle mid-size passenger aircraft.

In other Airbus news, the company announced on Nov. 13 that, 20 years after its maiden flight, Airbus has completed production for the A340 jetliner, reflecting changing market dynamics. While new aircraft are no longer to be built, Airbus will continue to support the current global fleet of A340s as long as they are in operation. Four versions of the A340 were produced by Airbus: the A340-200, A340-300, A340-500 and A340-600. Providing extended operating ranges of up to 9,000 nautical miles, this product line allows operators to eliminate unproductive stops, open new routes and match service standards to targeted market needs on very long-haul segments.