A350 program update: EIS date set (sort of); ambiguity over -800; talk of a -1000 stretch

Airbus provided a program update Monday to the international media. Here are links to initial stories.

Airchive: Airbus sees shift toward 250-300 seat aircraft. Airchive reproduces some of the illustrations Airbus presented. Airchive reports the planned EIS for September 2014 (as does the headline Aviation Week article below) but adds that EIS could slide to November or December. (We have it for early 2015.)

Aviation Week: September 2014 EIS targeted.

Bloomberg: Airbus will eventually seek certification with lithium batteries.

Bloomberg’s story has a couple of important points:

  • While multiple -800 customers have moved to the longer A350-900, Airbus still has outstanding orders for 89 units and will build the plane if customers want it, Evrard said. He gave no indication when production of the -800 versions may begin. (Emphasis added.)
  • Evrard said stretching the A350-1000 by adding panels to make the fuselage longer for additional passengers would be perfectly feasible from a technical point of view.“Stretching further is possible, there are no show-stoppers, but today it’s still in the pre-concept phase” he said.

On the first point, we previously reported that a change in production sequence was likely coming. An Airbus spokesperson denied it, but the comments above at the briefing certainly infer otherwise.

On the second point, Evrard’s comments about stretching the -1000 are, in our view, significant. We reported last night in our interview with Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor that Airbus was looking at this hypothetical, though no internal proposal had been made. Still, it’s clear to us that Airbus is giving solid consideration and we predict that eventually will proceed.

The Airchive report of a market shift toward the 250-300 aircraft is also significant. With continued trends toward upgauging, this will soon shift to 300-350 and then to 350-400. The corollary is that the Very Large Aircraft sector continues to shrink.

19 Comments on “A350 program update: EIS date set (sort of); ambiguity over -800; talk of a -1000 stretch

  1. How will Airbus capture the 250-300 seat market with a plane too heavy for the market space? That being the A350-900. Without the A350-800 what will they do? Make the A330 over again and call it modern? Take more weight out, add modern engines, change the wing, and even change the inside a bit and you will still have a plane that flies for more money than the 787. But the Airbus people say they are going to bury Boeing, which I find to be the dumbest thing I’ve read. Why? If Airbus played fair they could have a very profitable business. If prices continue to drop on the Airbus side and they force the cost down to second and third tier suppliers, the supply base will push back. Thin margins for high volumes will not sit well and no bids may be an issue. This is just getting interesting. Why win at all cost?

    • where did you read anything about a burial?
      I think the big 2 are supremely comfortable with the current duopoly.

      • Check out rencet aritcles from Airbus management and you will see that the tone has been very agressive in its approach to market communications. The word bury may not have been used but it certainly was presented in that vain!!!

    • “But the Airbus people say they are going to bury Boeing”
      Quite the overstatement, isn’t it? ( And a historically incorect cite :
      Chrustschow spoke of “We will be at/watch your burial” )
      Airbus has been watching Boeings demise for decades already.
      And as the WTO case noted this is something rather self afflicted.
      If Boeing had taken on Airbus as a producer of competitive products
      and complemented The A Series with a “factually better” B Series
      avoiding the trap of strategically upgrading old tech and then closing the
      gap with inventive but tainted use of statistics Boieng probably would not
      be in the position they find themselves today.

    • If Airbus played fair they could have a very profitable business.
      You have obviously not studied EADS’s annual results reports and thus know nothing about how much of EADS’s profit is actually profit generated by Airbus.

      If prices continue to drop on the Airbus side

      How refreshing to read that Airbus is allegedly dropping its prices and selling its planes with a low or even a negative profit margin. Haven’t seen that one in a while.

      • Where’s an “edit” option when you need it…
        I’ll try again:

        If Airbus played fair they could have a very profitable business.

        You have obviously not studied EADS’s annual results reports and thus know nothing about EADS’s profit, nor how much of it is generated by Airbus.

        If prices continue to drop on the Airbus side

        How refreshing to read that Airbus is allegedly dropping its prices and selling its planes with a low or even a negative profit margin. Haven’t seen that one in a while.

      • Look, you might believe that price is not a factor. But it is. Airlines are not in this because they want a level playing field. I guess when you buy a car you buy it from the most expensive supplier because you like the color of the sales person’s hair. You want the best deal that is in your assumed favor. Sorry if you feel these things are done where Airbus wins because they have the best product and the highest price. Not in any world is that true so leave the same comment alone. These low ball deals are going to hurt the industry and that was my point. Airbus may be very profitable but the guys who are forced to drop their prices to support the Airbus program are not making any money. SOmewhere in the chain does the impact begin to be felt. Check out the labor wages companies are paying. Are they moving at the same rate as the cost ? Nothing is free and the price is being felt acorss the globe. But you seem so focused on points that are not economically logical. Check out the second and thrid tier suppliers and see what they say about provding parts to Airbus tier one suppliers.

    • “How will Airbus capture the 250-300 seat market with a plane too heavy for the market space?”
      You clearly forgot about the A330.

      Ohhh wait, you remembered…

      “Make the A330 over again and call it modern? Take more weight out, add modern engines, change the wing, and even change the inside a bit…”
      What on Earth do you think Boeing has been doing with the 737 for the past 55 years?

      “Airbus people say they are going to bury Boeing, which I find to be the dumbest thing I’ve read.”
      OK, so you haven’t read it…

      “This is just getting interesting. Why win at all cost?”
      Why not ask ANA? Apparently Boeing has to win this one at all cost.

  2. I do not think the 350-800 will ever be built, too few orders and shrink models rarely work.

  3. The A330-200 worked alright though I do realize that it’s appeal has eroded over time and it’s longer sibling, the A330-300 has a much larger backlog now.

    Especially over longer routes, the A350-800 can match the economics of an A330-300 but it will have to be priced right. So, assuming that Airbus does indeed price the A350-800 competitively, there is a market for it though it is almost certain to be outsold by the 787-8.

    • The A330-200 once was introduced to fill a niche early that started to open by way of better engine sfc and airframe improvements ( OEW reduction, MTOW increase ). Further A330 improvements ( so much that using the center tank now makes sense for the -300 ) then expanded that window towards the -300 model.

  4. The Airchive report of a market shift toward the 250-300 aircraft is also significant. With continued trends toward upgauging, this will soon shift to 300-350 and then to 350-400. The corollary is that the Very Large Aircraft sector continues to shrink.

    It’s funny how everybody agrees that plane sizes are trending upwards, and will continue to do so, but when it comes to VLAs, they say “Hang on – it stops right there, young man!” – even declaring (as Scott does here) that the VLA sector will shrink further because plane sizes are trending upwards.
    I am yet to read a proper explanation for this thinking, to be honest.

  5. 350-800 is there to round up the offer. 350-900 is the main model. If you can you fill a production slot with a -1000 or -900 and you generate much more than with an -800.
    The 350 line is sold out till 2020, so there is no need to discount the 350-800. If there is a plane to discount, it is the 330.
    So, the strategy is clear: sell as many 330-300 as possible as long as you can. The line is paid for and you can really sell cheap. For the moment sell the -800 as plane optimized for long missions.
    Do this for 10 years and then lets see, if the 787 and 350-800 are to small anyways or if you have over-capacity and must offer some deals.

  6. Go Airbus- see if you can stretch -1000 and cut into the 777X’s selling point -400 people mover with its economics ; now what does Boeing do? 787-10 HGW? or CFRP 777?

  7. Does the 1000 get longer main gear than the 900? The 764 did compared to the 763. I think that would be the main obstacle for an1100 to head out to 78m or so. The wing and engines from the 1000 should be fine for 8 or 9 hour flights.

    • Why should a longer main landing gear be an obstacle? The wing could get a little bigger for an 0.5 meter longer main landing gear. Then Boeing offers folding wing tips Airbus could do the same.

      • Good point. However they get enough rotation angle to get it up in the air works for me.

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