Airbus is playing down reports that its A350 XWB programme is seriously over weight, saying that figures quoted by German media are inaccurate and that the design of the airliner is still being finalised.
Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper reports that the twinjet’s weight is at least “8t” behind target, and cites problems linked to the carbonfibre structure that Airbus has adopted for the aircraft.
The A350 is still in its early development stages, with the detail definition freeze of the initial –900 model not due to be reached until the end of the year. First flight is around four years away.
While Airbus does not deny the programme has a weight issue, it says that the 8t figure reported is inaccurate. “Weight reduction is an ongoing effort of any airliner programme,” says the airframer.
News of the possible weight problem comes as Airbus prepares to roll out the first of two carbonfibre fuselage barrel demonstrators it is building as part of its preparation for A350 production. The twinjet’s fuselage structural design comprises carbonfibre panels and frames and metallic cross-beams.
The first demonstrator, an 11m long item, will be rolled out of Airbus’s St Nazaire plant this month, with a second, 18m long section, to follow. The goal of the demonstrator programme is to ensure both the “maturity and certification” compliance of the design, says A350 programme chief Didier Evrard. “They will also support the manufacturing-processes development.”