Airbus and Rolls-Royce have agreed to up-size the Trent XWB engine powering the A350-1000, which will add about 500nm of range, Leeham News has learned.
The formal announcements have been planned for the Paris Air Show. Airbus issued a “no comment” to our inquiry and Rolls-Royce did not return calls.
Emirates Airlines CEO Tim Clark has been urging Airbus to add power to the airplane and enlarge it to 380 passengers in three-classes and add range to allow non-stop service from Dubai to Los Angeles. Qatar Airways and Korean Airlines have also encouraged Airbus to enlarge the airplane.
We’ve learned that Airbus won’t be enlarging the airframe but the OEM will up the gross takeoff weight. The Roll-Royce Trent XWB, envisioned to power all three A350 family members, is 92,000 lbs. thrust. The larger -1000 engine will be another 5,000 lbs. But the increased range will still fall somewhat short of Clark’s goal on non-stop to Los Angeles. Rather, the airplane will be able to do Dubai-Seattle non-stop.
Entry-into-service, advertised as
20142015, will be rescheduled to late 2016, according to our information. (Typo; sorry about that.)
The moves are important not only to Airbus’ customers, but also to Boeing. It also proves Boeing’s skepticism of the original A350-1000 design and engine size had merit.
Boeing has been holding off any decision on what to do in response to the A350-1000, a direct competitor to the popular and highly efficient 777-300ER, until the detailed design definition of the -1000 emerges. Boeing, for months, said that it doesn’t know what the -1000 truly is and officials went much further, declaring the -1000 wasn’t a “real” airplane; and that to meet the performance requirement Airbus advertised, a larger engine and perhaps a larger wing would be required. One Wall Street aerospace analyst believes the wing will have to be enlarged by 3% but we don’t believe one is part of the enhancement.
Boeing has been suggesting the A350-1000 will have a five year EIS delay from 2014 (to 2019) because of the need to rejig the airplane.
As a result, Boeing concluded that it has plenty of time to decide what to do with the 777-300ER. Its choices are to do nothing except routine Performance Improvement Packages (PIP) until a new airplane is required, or undertake a major upgrade that might include significant changes to the wing and engines, and finally design an entirely new airplane in the 2020 decade.
Whether the rejigged A350-1000 provides the “clarity” Boeing needs to make a decision is too soon to say.
Boeing could not be reached during the weekend for comment.