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Airbus increases maximum take-off weight on A350 XWB

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

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

This was the third PPR 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 currently 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, Tim Clark, president of major A350 customer Emirates, says that 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.

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Source: Flight International