Airbus has been spouting the over-used phrase "lessons learned" as it explains how it will avoid repeating A380 mistakes on the A350.

The airfamer uttered similar words a decade ago after the calamitous early days of the A340-500/600 as A380 development began, when it declared that "these mistakes cannot be repeated". They weren't. As one wit quipped, Airbus came up with a set of new ones.

But the signs are that Airbus really has learned from the pains it endured when it started building its superjumbo. A case in point was the decision to build a buffer into the XWB's flight-test programme - even Airbus admits that customers had queried why it had scheduled 15 months when others only needed a year.

That margin has now been burned up after the structural design slip, but Airbus has other tricks up its sleeve to keep on schedule. For example, there will be a full-size A350 fuselage mock-up (built from solid material rather than computer code). This may seem a bit last century but should ensure the cabin's wiring looms aren't too short, as some were on the A380. That programme's over-reliance on the digital mock-up resulted in disastrous production delays as teams of workers had to re-wire the double-deckers on the line.

So there is strong evidence that Airbus is well prepared to dodge earlier mistakes - customers must just hope it doesn't invent any new ones this time.

Source: Flight International