Airbus is to freeze concept work for the A350-1000 by the end of this month, and shift to a more detailed design stage in the new year.
Chief executive Fabrice Bregier says 2014 will be a “very busy year” for the -1000. He says the airframer is “ramping down” design teams from the -900 so that it will have sufficient resources to develop the larger twinjet.
The aircraft will reach the end-of-concept phase this month, he says. Airbus designates this stage as MG5. The next gate for the aircraft will be MG7, the end of design and authorisation for parts manufacturing.
Bregier says the -1000 is “not a high-risk development”, given that it has a high proportion of commonality with the -900, and it will be ready for entry into service in mid-2017.
He points out that the orders from “top customers”, including British Airways and Japan Airlines, have shown that there is demand in the market for the aircraft.
“When we told you the -1000 was a [Boeing] 777-300ER killer, I think this is confirmed by the launch of the 777-9X,” he adds.
Airbus has continued to hand out contracts for A350-1000 components, with Saab picking up a package of flap-support structure work – its first supply deal for the type.
The structures connect the flaps to the wing trailing edge. Saab says it will deliver the components from 2015 and perform design and manufacturing at its aerostructures facility in Linkoping.
Saab says the agreement runs for the life of the programme with an initial order value of around $150 million based on the current order backlog of 186 aircraft.