Toulouse: The Airbus A350XWB twin wide-body programme is entering a new phase of development with the completion of an internal review, which the aircraft maker calls Milestone 5. The completion of the review entails a detailed definition freeze for the A350 programme and now shifts production focus to parts design and commencement of component production.
Conducted in December, Airbus CEO Tom Enders had characterized it as a "major review" in which a range of matters, such as weight status, schedule and ramp-up rates, would be scrutinized.
An Airbus official says "the review confirmed that the program can now go ahead with further specific design work."
Reports suggest the review focused primarily on the A350-900, which will be the first in the wide-body family to enter production. The -800 and -1000 versions will enter service two years after the -900, which, according to Airbus officials, is slated for entry into service in 2013.
The A350 is meant to compete with Boeing's runaway success, the 787 Dreamliner, which has already recorded the largest bookings ever in the history of aviation for any pre-production aircraft. But the Dreamliner programme has run into severe problems and is running two years behind schedule.
Airbus may now be interested in catching up on its competitor with an early arrival in the market with the A350-900.
Airbus is due to complete wind tunnel testing of the aerodynamic configuration of the A350 sometime in late summer. It has already completed several thousand hours of wind tunnel testing on the A350XWB after more than a year of trials.
The Toulouse-based manufacturer has also firmed up its list of parts suppliers, assigning almost all major systems.
Airbus is also moving ahead with industrial preparations for the manufacture of the A350 having placed orders for tools to be used to build the A350 several months ago. It also plans to commence work on the final assembly facility at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse on 14 January.