FARNBOROUGH: Airbus soaks up A350-1000 margin as it throws weight behind -900

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Airbus is using some of the margin in its schedule for the A350-1000 to throw all its resources behind the -900 as the baseline variant enters a critical point in its development process. However, Airbus remains on track to achieve the stretch variant's definition freeze at the end of next year.

Production of the -900, which is the first of three XWB variants to be developed, is under way and final assembly of the initial aircraft will begin in just over a year. It is due to enter service in 2013, with the -800 shrink following in 2014 and the -1000 arriving in 2015.

The -1000's design freeze was due to be reached in mid-2010 to enable the detail definition phase to get under way and be concluded at the end of next year. While the latter target remains "a stick in the ground", programme chief Didier Evrard says that the mid-2010 design freeze target was "a first review" and that Airbus has "reviews running currently".

"The bulk of the resources are on the -900," says Evrard, "and sometimes there are some conflicts to balance between the short term and the longer term". The drive at the moment is to ensure that maximum effort goes into the baseline -900 as "the more robust the father, the better the children".

For the -1000, the design freeze process involves "intermediate reviews" during 2010, says Evrard, who adds that 2011 "is when it becomes important for the -1000, because that's when we start to engage in industrial decisions".