Airbus and Rolls-Royce confirmed June 18 news we reported 10 days ago: that the A350-1000 will get a more powerful engine and more range. Airbus officials also confirmed that the changes will push the entry-into-service of the -1000 from 2015 to 2017, somewhat later than we reported; and that the smaller A350-800 EIS is also being pushed back from 2014 to 2016.
EIS for the baseline A350-900 remains the same, late 2013.
The -1000’s delay is driven largely by the engine upgrade from 93,000 lbs thrust to 97,000 lbs. The airframe will benefit from minor technological advances emerging from the -900 test flights and early EIS. Range is increased 450nm and gross weight is upped by 4.5 tons. Flaps and wing tips also receive minor changes to enlarge them, but the basic wing area remains the same.
No changes to the -800 beyond lessons learned from the -900 testing and EIS are contemplated.
Pushing back the -800 and -1000 also relieves pressure on resources, principally engineers, to concentrate on the -900 to assure EIS as promised.
Mark King, president of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace, said that the engine’s fan will have the same diameter and the increased thrust won’t result in an increased fuel burn. Rather, additional technologies will result in lower fuel burn than previously contemplated.
The new engine will be scaled up from the existing engine.
Rolls-Royce now has an exclusive supplier contract for the -1000, something it did not have before, Martin said.
Five customers with 42 orders have switched to the -900. They are lessors Alafco (12) and ILFC (6) and TAM (12), Asiana (2) and Group Synergy (10). John Leahy, COO Customers, said these customers concluded they want the larger version. Ninety-eight orders remain. Leahy and Fabrice Bregier, Airbus COO, said there are no plans to drop the -800 model, which competes with the Boeing 787-9, nor to add a stretch of the -1000 to plug a capacity gap between the 350-seat -1000 and the 550-seat A380.
Leahy said all customers affected by the EIS shifts for the -800 and -1000 have agreed consensually to the moves. He did not respond to a question whether financial compensations were paid.
Leahy also said the rescheduling of the -800 and -1000 better allows Airbus to “sequence resources” for the A320neo and the -900.
“It’s not a surprise we are quite stretched on resources,” Bregier said. He also said Airbus remains cautious about the production ramp-up for the -900, with the goal of producing more than 10 a month not being forecast until four years after EIS.
The moves are important to Boeing on several levels.
First, Boeing had been predicting the -1000 would be delayed five years, to 2019, and this would have given the company lots of breathing room to design a response for the 777-300ER, which is the target of the -1000.
Second, the -1000 becomes more competitive to the -300ER, at least on paper, and therefore more of a threat. This threat, if Boeing concludes it is real, may influence what Boeing does for the New Small Airplane (NSA) or a re-engined 737.
Third, moving the -800 to a 2016 EIS relieves some of the pressure on Boeing to come out with the 787-10, which while slightly larger than the -800, nonetheless means another development program for Boeing at a time when the NSA or a -300ER solution may be more pressing.
Fourth, the cautious production ramp up for the -900 means Boeing can churn out 777s as fast as the supply chain will allow taking advantages of the new timelines.