Airbus’s schedule for the A350 XWB has slipped to later in the second half of 2013, reflecting the company’s recognition that the transition from the design to manufacturing phase will prove more complex than originally expected. The caution is understandable in light of the well publicized manufacturing issues with the A380 program, and similarly with Boeing’s oft-delayed 787.
The outsourcing trend has complicated the job of building large aircraft, and the coordination of a multitude of contractors and suppliers has only added to the program’s complexity and managers’ headaches. Still, Airbus expects a relatively minor delay; original plans called for the A350 to enter service early in the second half of 2013. They now call for first delivery somewhat later in the year.
Work has started on the A350’s center wing box and upper and lower wing covers. Airbus recently announced the opening of an A350 landing-gear systems test facility at its Filton site in the UK. The new facility will assume responsibility for design, integration and certification of all Airbus aircraft landing gear, and will begin testing A350 landing gear midway through next year.
Airbus now holds firm orders for 573 A350s.