With airlines always looking for the latest technology to
attract customers and improve fuel efficiency, the rivalry
continues as a premier tech competition.
Boeing grabbed the spotlight with the launch of its 787
Dreamliner but Airbus is now ready to strike back with the A350
and its iterations aimed at the Boeing 777 and 787.
Prior to delivery, Airbus had to prove that the A350 was up for
the challenge of long distance flight. To do this, Airbus sent
the A350 on a three week tour of 14 cities around the world with
the plane returning home to Toulouse, France, several days
With the tour portion complete, Airbus can now gear up for the
first deliveries of its latest aircraft.
Customers and deliveries
Airbus currently has 742 orders for the A350 and expects to begin
deliveries by the end of this year. As a major customer for the
aircraft, Qatar Airways will be the launch customer with plans to
eventually take delivery of 80 Airbus A350 aircraft.
Airbus A350; source: Airbus
Despite Qatar Airways' CEO slamming both Airbus and Boeing at
the Farnborough Air Show over quality and delays, the delivery of
the A350 aircraft is expected to go ahead as planned over the
course of several years.
Qatar Airways is not the only airline excited about the A350.
Finnair, the first European airline receiving the A350, is also
preparing to welcome the Airbus A350 into its fleet for both
passenger comfort and range flexibility. One of the selling
points of the A350 has been its range of over 14,000 kilometers
allowing airlines to fly long distance routes and be competitive
with the Boeing 777. For Finnair, range does matter since its
Asian routes could soon be lengthened if Russia follows through
with its threat to close Siberian skies to European aircraft.
Not surprisingly, the first routes Finnair plans to use the
A350 for are flights to Beijing, Bangkok, and Shanghai, with
flights to Hong Kong and Singapore to begin in 2016.
notes that Finnair has unveiled the interiors of its A350
aircraft which feature lie-flat business class seats, Economy
Comfort seats, and standard economy seats; a fairly standard
arrangement on today's long distance aircraft.
Among the goals Airbus has for the A350 is for it to avoid the
delays seen at Boeing in the development of its 787 Dreamliner.
Although the A350 has seen about a year and a half of delays, it
still expects to have fewer delays than the rival 787 . With the
tour test successfully completed, Airbus is one step closer to
meeting the goal of delivering the first A350 by the end of the
Earlier this year, the A350 was also in the news but for an
event that shook Airbus and sent its stock lower. The Emirates
cancellation of an order for 70 Airbus A350 aircraft made
investors question the quality of aircraft orders at Airbus and
to some extent at Boeing as well.
Both the delays and cancellations issues are still worth
monitoring but are likely to play less of a role once Airbus can
begin deliveries and the A350 moves from a technical development
challenge to a production based one.
Bloomberg notes that Airbus is targeting profitability for the
A350 program before the end of the decade . To do this, Airbus
plans to increase production to fill the orders it already has.
Among the ways Airbus hopes to increase production is through the
use of faster carbon component manufacturing; something that
could go a long way in an aircraft comprised 53% of composite
Nearing a milestone
It's been seven years since Airbus last delivered an all new
passenger jet but the company appears to be within months of
delivering its first A350 to Qatar Airways and then to Finnair
the following year.
But the challenges are not over yet. The deliveries still need
to begin and production needs to be increased to fill orders at a
faster rate. However, one thing is certain: This is definitely
something for aerospace followers and investors to keep an eye on
as the competition between Boeing and Airbus continues.
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The Airbus A350: Countdown to Delivery
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