A350-800 to be developed as -900 shrink

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Airbus has opted to develop its A350-800 as a shrink version of the -900, an adjustment aimed at simplifying the programme.

By optimising the A350 around the -900 as a baseline the airframer is adopting a similar strategy to its development of the A330-200/300.

It will potentially provide the -800 with a 3t increase in payload or extend its range by 250nm - although it will also raise the fuel-burn.

Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy disclosed the plan at a briefing in Seville today, stating that definition freeze on the -800 had been completed.

Designing the -800 as a derated version of the -900 will enable Airbus to avoid accommodating changes, for example, to the landing-gear.

Leahy says: "The more we looked at [changes on the -800], the more we thought: 'Why?'"

He admits that the decision would increase the -800's fuel-burn by "a couple of percent" but insists this would still keep the twin-jet in the "same competitive region".

There would be no change to the entry into service date.

Airbus has orders for 182 A350-800s, plus 248 -900s and 75 for the larger -1000.