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Airbus Launches New Aircraft Family and Industrial Strategy

  • Monday, 11th December 2006
  • Reading time: about 5 minutes

Louis Gallois, President and Chief Executive Officer of Airbus and co-CEO of EADS, together with Fabrice Brégier, COO, John Leahy, COO – Customers, Tom Williams, EVP Programmes, and Olivier Andries EVP Strategy and Co-operation, opened last Monday’s press conference announcing the launch of the A350 XWB.

“”The launch of the A350 XWB is the best evidence that Airbus is preparing for the future with great confidence,”” stated Louis Gallois. “”The A350 XWB will be the most efficient, the most environmentally advanced aircraft in the skies.””

To achieve this, the new A350 XWB will feature the latest innovations in terms of advanced technologies. Amongst those is the use of all-new, easy to maintain and much lighter carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) panelled fuselage skins. According to Airbus, this innovation in manufacturing permits easier maintainability and reparability of individual airframe parts, while also allowing the structure of the panels to be much better optimized in terms of design to the stress and load requirements of each individual airframe part. Over 60 per cent of the airframe will be made of new materials.

Expressing special thanks to the company’s shareholders for their commitment and support, Louis Gallois explained the new strategy this programme heralded.

“”The A350 XWB is not only our response to market demand,”” he said. “”It is a crucial vehicle to transform Airbus.”” The company will apply a new industrial approach with 50 per cent of aerostructures work being outsourced to risk sharing partners, more work placed in US dollar countries, a small number of Tier 1 risk-sharing partners, and suppliers brought into the team 18 months earlier than usual.

He also stressed the importance of Power 8, Airbus’ competitiveness programme, for the launch adding that he made it a personal commitment for himself and Fabrice Brégier.

In terms of financing, Louis Gallois stated that the EADS Board judged that it was able to afford the investment through a blend of EADS’ internal resources, associating partnerships, and funds raised on the world?s capital markets, if need be.

“”In a nutshell, the A350 XWB is just the airplane the market needs… After the management turmoil and the very costly industrialisation problems of the A380, Airbus is back and well back,”” he concluded.

John Leahy then expressed his confidence in the new Airbus aircraft Family, listing a few of the many improvements made on the design since the aircraft’s first version one year ago. “”We’ve moved a step beyond the competition,”” he said, explaining how it will fly further, burn less fuel, make less noise, have less environmental impact and offer greater comfort to passengers in all classes. And naturally the A350 XWB Family will retain the operational commonality that Airbus can offer.

In terms of timing, John Leahy stated that the A350 XWB would come just in time for the second wave of replacement cycle of 300-seat aircraft in 2013. He also expressed his confidence in customers’ interest in the aircraft, including existing A350 customers with whom Airbus is holding individual negotiations. “”They liked the A350, they’ll like this one better… The A350 XWB is truly the future of flying,”” he said confidently.

Airbus was given the go-ahead for the industrial launch of the A350 XWB Family, a new medium capacity long-range extra wide-body family from the Board of Directors of its parent company EADS.

The A350 XWB will be available in three basic passenger versions, the A350-800 which can fly 270 passengers in a spacious three-class configuration up to 8,500nm / 15,750 km, the A350-900 seating 314, and the A350-1000 which is designed for 350, both with ranges of up to 8,300nm / 15,400 km. The three passenger versions have a cruise speed of Mach 0.85. As an ultra long-range aircraft, the A350-900R will fly even further. A freighter version, the A350-900F will complement the passenger models. According to its latest Global Market Forecast, Airbus estimates the demand for passenger and freighter aircraft in this category, for the next 20 years, at some 5,700 planes representing 41 per cent in terms of value of all new aircraft delivered above 100 seats.

“The A350 XWB has it all to become a great success – the most advanced technologies, the best economics and the highest level of comfort. It is a direct response to market demand,” says Louis Gallois, Airbus President and CEO, and co-CEO of EADS. “The decision follows a thorough review of all the resources available to ensure a smooth development of the Family backed by a very sound programme planning. Airbus remains a lead player in providing a complete range of modern airliners to its customers.”

With a cross section of 232 inches / 5.9 meters, the A350 XWB will benefit from the widest fuselage in its category, offering unprecedented levels of comfort in this market segment. It will also offer the lowest operating costs and lowest seat mile cost of any aircraft in that category. The Family is designed to confront the challenges of high fuel prices, rising passenger expectations, and environmental concerns in that market segment.

The A350 XWB will be powered by new generation Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines delivering between 75,000 and 95,000lbs of thrust. Rolls Royce CEO, Sir John Rose, said: “We are very pleased to join Airbus for its A350 XWB programme. Together, we are committed to set new standards in fuel-efficiency, maintainability and engine reliability for the 21st century.”

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