A350-XWB Family Will Costs $10 Billion To Develop
rumors/gossip/rampant speculation we've heard over the past several
months regarding Airbus' stillborn A350 were confirmed Monday, as
Airbus' new President and CEO, Christian Streiff, confirmed the
company's plans for an all-new family of aircraft, dubbed the
Streiff said the new family will consist of four passenger
versions -- up from a rumored three -- and one freighter:
- The 270-passenger A350-800,
- The 314-passenger A350-900, due to arrive in mid-2012, and
- The 350-passenger A350-1000
Airbus says all three versions will have a range of 8500 nm and
a cruise speed of Mach 0.85... but there's more. The A350-900R will
be an ultra long-range aircraft, intended not only to compete with
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, but also pull double-duty as a Boeing
777-fighter. A freighter version of that aircraft, the A350-900F,
will complete the family.
Power choices for the new planes haven't been determined as
yet... but Rolls-Royce is said to be developing a new engine for
Streiff said the new planes will offer increased range,
speed, passenger comfort and economics over its competitors... much
more so than the original A330-based A350 design managed.
"I want this company to get back to its basics: Airbus’
success has been based on the enormous courage it took to introduce
the latest technologies, and on strong customer orientation with a
spirit of always delivering more than expected," said Streiff.
"Based on previous lessons learnt, the A350 XWB brings Airbus fully
back into the game and will be a success. A success for customers,
shareholders and all other stakeholders in Airbus."
Bringing Airbus back into competition for the medium-range
widebody sales race will come at a price, however -- $10 billion,
up from the $4.5 billion originally quoted for the A330-derived
A350, which was Airbus's hastily conceived first answer to the
The new CEO -- on the job for only two weeks -- also went on the
offensive, telling those in attendance at Monday's news
conference the company understands the challenges ahead.
"Yes, Airbus in the middle of a serious crisis in our
relationship with our customers," Streiff said. "Yes, this is
something we are taking extremely seriously inside Airbus, and yes,
we know the competition is taking advantage of this today."
The competition, of course, is Boeing -- which announced several
new orders at Farnborough Monday.
As Airbus sets to building the redesigned A350 family, the task
of resigning current A350 customers to the new jets -- as well as
bringing in new customers -- falls on the shoulders of Airbus Chief
Operating Officer John Leahy... the loudest cheerleader for the
While stressing the benefits of the new design -- seven percent
lower operating costs per seat over the Boeing 787, more extensive
use of composites compared to the original A350 (45 percent of the
airframe, compared to the 787's 50 percent) and offering five more
inches cabin width to passengers over the 787 -- Leahy conceded
Airbus might lose "one of two" of the 14 customers who ordered the
However... if customers can wait the extra four years from the
time the 787 is scheduled to start commercial service, until the
new A350 starts operations... Airbus may just have a winner on its
hands. Stay tuned!