More reports on: Rolls Royce Group, Airbus
Airbus takes on Boeing's 777-300ER with re-engined A350-1000 news
20 June 2011

Paris: European commercial plane manufacturer Airbus has confirmed plans to delay a particular line of A350 aircraft to allow time to Rolls Royce to develop a bigger engine. The development will provide customers an effective option against the Boeing 777-300ER long range airliner.

The Boeing's 777-300ER is a 365-seat model which has notched up sales of more than 500 planes compared with 75 for the largest type of A350.

"It is pretty well known that several leading airlines were encouraging us to get more range and payload. I think most of the world's airlines will be delighted with this airplane," Airbus COO, customers, John Leahy told reporters.

Under an agreement, Rolls-Royce, the engine maker will increase the thrust on its Trent XWB engine for the A350-1000 model to 97,000 pounds from 93,000. The increased thrust will increase the range of the 350-seat plane by another 400 nautical miles (740 km).

It will also allow the aircraft to carry 4.5 tonnes of additional payload be it passengers or cargo.

The proposed development will, however, push delivery of the A350-1000 back by 18 months, to mid-2017. It will also impact deliveries of a smaller version of the plane, the A350-800, which will be delayed by two years, to 2016, However, first delivery of the most-popular A350-900 model will remain unchanged at end-2013.

The A350-1000 XWB

According to industry experts, new engine development costs are particularly heavy and a development like this would set back Rolls Royce by several hundred million dollars. But Rolls Royce is sanguine about the prospects it has been granted exclusivity on the A350-1000.

Under pressure from its Gulf customers, a change of engine marks a policy shift for Airbus and Rolls who had both previously said the A350 range of three models would all be powered by a single type of engine.

"The reaction's been very good. Four customers have been consulted and they were pushing us in the direction of more range and more payload," Leahy said.

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Airbus takes on Boeing's 777-300ER with re-engined A350-1000