Airbus's chief executive, Tom Enders, is prepared to allow a slip in the A350-900 assembly schedule if it would mean avoiding costly late-stage reworking of key structures.
While the airframer is still aiming to begin final assembly of the twinjet by the end of this year, the manufacturer has repeatedly acknowledged that the aircraft's development is challenging.
Enders said that Airbus did not want to encounter the problems it met during early A380 production, when unfinished structures shipped prematurely to the final assembly line caused serious bottlenecks.
He said that chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier was constantly assessing the maturity of the A350 programme but added that there was no "magic" deadline.
"If he and his team need a few more months to prepare for final assembly, it's better to delay than to clog the final assembly line with modifications and unresolved matters," Enders stressed in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro.
While the airframer is still maintaining its target of commencing assembly in 2011, he said, there was no "magic" date for maturity, and added: "We learned a rather simple lesson from the A380: it's no use putting sections of the aircraft into final assembly if they're not ready."