Airbus raises A350's maximum take-off weight

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Airbus has confirmed to existing and potential A350 XWB customers that it has missed the weight target for the new twin-jet and is increasing the aircraft's maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to compensate.

The airframer provided the update at last week's programme performance review held in Madrid, where detailed briefings were provided to a large group comprising both current and potential customers.

This was the third such review held by Airbus, coming around nine months since the previous gathering in Bordeaux last September.

According to industry sources, the aircraft's empty weight is around 2t behind target, but Airbus is striving to mitigate this.

However, the airframer is understood to have increased the MTOWs of each of the three XWB variants by 3t to ensure that the aircraft can achieve its payload-range targets.

The previously quoted MTOWs for the -800, -900 and -1000 were 245t, 265t and 295t respectively.

While the level of overweight confirmed by Airbus is less significant than the 8t suggested in recent media reports, the need to increase MTOW is likely to affect fuel efficiency and possibly contracted performance guarantees.

However, major A350 customer Emirates’ president, Tim Clark, says the increases are "manageable at the moment".

The design of the baseline A350-900 model, which is scheduled to enter service in 2013, is being finalised as Airbus approaches the detailed definition freeze at the end of the year.

Airbus has not denied earlier reports about the A350's weight being behind target, saying that "weight reduction is an ongoing effort", but was unavailable for comment about the latest details.