Airbus is showing a select group of airlines a stretched version of the A350-1000.
The idea is to get enough feedback from potential customers so that a decision to go ahead or not can be made during the summer.
What has changed now it that the A350-1000 is taking form on the Airbus Toulouse Final Assembly Line (FAL) and Airbus can now see that the A350-1000 will hit its performance and weight numbers.
Airbus also has a lot of learning from the A350-900 which makes it confident that an A350-1000 stretch can be made with rather small changes.
The A350-1000 is very close in capacity to the Boeing 777-300ER, yet is considerable lighter; it is made with more modern construction techniques, it is equipped with a more modern engine and it has only 4 door pairs.
Source: Grupo Joly
This gives the A350-1000 a distinctive performance advantage.
Staying with 4 door pairs, the total length of the aircraft can only be stretched with around 4m before the distance between exit doors go beyond the allowed 60 feet.
As no additional safety exits will be necessary, such an extension will increase the aircraft’s capacity to around 400 seats.
Leahy has said that the favoured engine alternative is a stretched variant of the A350-1000 engine Rolls-Royce TWB 97k.
By staying within the exit limits of 4 door pairs (max capacity 440 seats), a capacity increase of 40 seats is possible with minimal changes to other parts of the aircraft.
This would enable a 400 seat aircraft which has a 7,600nm range with a MTOW which is below 320t.
This is a full 32t less than a competing Boeing 777-9 that has only a marginally higher passenger capacity.
The lower take-off and empty weight would give an A350-1000 stretch around 10% lower trip costs and around 5% lower seat mile costs.