Airbus expects to be producing more than 150 A350 XWBs annually within three years of first deliveries in 2013. This ambitious plan would put output of the twinjet 30% higher than the maximum of 10 a month targeted for the A330/A340 - which represents the manufacturer's highest widebody output ever.

Details of the production rate have been revealed by A350 XWB chief engineer Gordon McConnell. He says that once production of the XWB had reached maturity by 2016, monthly production will run at 13 a month - or around 150 a year.

The first variant of the A350, the -900, is due to make its first flight in 2012 and enter service in mid-2013. The smaller -800 and larger -1000 will follow in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Airbus is more than a year away from freezing the A350's concept with the milestone dubbed "maturity gate" (MG) 5 due to be reached in late 2008. The programme is about to reach "MG4.1" ( by the end of June) when the aircraft's performance will be frozen and a major design review will be undertaken. The detailed definition phase will then begin before it freezes the aircraft's general concept and characteristics at the MG4.2 stage, which is due in the first quarter of 2008.

Airbus recently confirmed its plan to step up its A320 production rate from 32 to 40 a month by the end of 2009. It is also evaluating an increase in A330/A340 production line to 10 aircraft a month, after it reaches its existing target of nine in 2009. This line currently produces seven aircraft a month.

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Source: Flight International