Airbus is closely examining the potential market for a larger version of the A350-1000, but wants to avoid distancing itself from the core A350 market.
The airframer has been talking to a “handful” of potential customers to explore whether there is a sufficient market for an aircraft with 50-60 more seats than the -1000, said Airbus COO for customers John Leahy.
He argued that Boeing has pursued the rival 777X simply to cut seat-mile cost figures, and Airbus wants to avoid proceeding with a further A350 development without a clear indication that there is market demand.
“This is not going to be a ‘me too’ airplane,” insisted Leahy at the Dubai air show.
While Airbus is “very carefully” looking at a stretched -1000, he said, the airframer still believes the “sweet spot” in the market is the sector occupied by the Boeing 777-300ER, and that a “large percentage” of that market will fall within the -1000’s capability.
The potential stretch would probably require modification of the wing – although not the undercarriage – and Leahy indicated that Airbus is discussing the options for a powerplant with Rolls-Royce, which provides the Trent XWB-97 for the -1000.
Leahy would not be drawn on the discussions, and whether Rolls-Royce could squeeze further performance from the XWB-97, acknowledging only that “maybe” a different engine would be necessary – without elaborating on the nature of any change.
“We think we could come up with a very good airplane,” he said, adding that – in comparison with the 777X – it would be “essentially clean-sheet”.
Based on the article “Stretched A350-1000 must not be 'me too' project – Leahy” published in FlightGlobal