During FAL inauguration, Mr.Evrard pointed out that at least the first two flight-test aircraft will be kept at Airbus and no decision has been made whether to keep MSN2 and MSN4, the subsequent aircraft. Airbus plans to assemble two aircraft this year and start producing a third before year-end.
In the second half of 2013, it will aim for a production rate of one aircraft per month. “Ramping up production will be crucial,” Evrard says.
The ramp-up required by Airbus is to produce 10 aircraft per month when the first A350-1000 is delivered, more or less between MSN50 and MSN60 (in 2017).
Suppliers have noted with concern two issues surrounding the program:
-Airbus's decision to introduce weight improvements and changes in several batches, which leads to extra work and some performance shortfalls for early models, and
- the recent wing-drilling troubles that have led to delays for later aircraft, although not for MSN1. A350 program chief Didier Evrard told suppliers that introducing the aircraft in batches is a normal process.
Image courtesy of FlightGlobal
Some issues that have historically caused trouble in programs such as the A340-600 or the A380 will only become relevant next year; cabin installation is one such area, and suppliers are already scrambling to make specification changes on time to meet targets mostly related to weight reduction.