Airbus set to rehaul long-haul carrier: source

11th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

TOULOUSE, France, May 11, 2006 (AFP) - Airbus is moving towards the development of a new long-haul carrier, amid criticism of the proposed design of its A350 twin-engined jet, a source close to the European aircraft giant said Wednesday.

TOULOUSE, France, May 11, 2006 (AFP) - Airbus is moving towards the development of a new long-haul carrier, amid criticism of the proposed design of its A350 twin-engined jet, a source close to the European aircraft giant said Wednesday.

"The board of EADS is likely to opt, at the end of May, for a new plane with an enlarged fuselage and new wings," the internal source at the world's biggest aircraft maker told AFP,

Such a decision would delay the first delivery date by a year and could double the development costs, currently estimated at four billion dollars, the source said.

Other sources spoke of a two-year delay and said the changes would amount to a major revamp of the A350 plans, rather than the development of an entirely different aircraft, with a bigger capacity, redesigned wings and fuel economies.

The planned A350 is itself a revamp of the 300-seat Airbus A330.

The A350's official delivery date is 2010, but Airbus has already let it be known that 2011 is more realistic.

A company spokesman would only say on Wednesday that "Airbus continues to explore all possibilities" concerning any modifications to the A350.

Airbus president Gustav Humbert indicated last month that the aircraft-maker would decide over the next year on "improvements" to the design to take into account some customer misgivings.

Two such customers, Singapore Airlines and US plane leaser ILFC, recently criticised the A350, designed as a competitor to US rival Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus is jointly owned by the European Aerospace, Defence and Space (EADS) company and British defence group BAE Systems.

The European company has received 100 firm orders for the A350, which was launched last October, against 345 orders for the fuel-efficient 787, launched in 2004, which should be in service by 2008.

ILFC chief Steven Udvar-Hazy warned that the European maker risked gaining just a quarter of the mid-size carrier market if it bases its new design on the A330's fuselage. The 787, which uses several composite materials, will consume 20 percent less fuel than existing models, an increasingly important factor at a time of soaring oil prices.

Orders for Boeing airliners have outnumbered those for Airbus planes by a ratio of more than three-to-one since the start of the year, figures available on the US company's websites show.

Airbus leads in terms of deliveries, however. It has delivered 142 planes since the start of the year compared with 126 for Boeing.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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