Airbus and The Boeing Company have been the subjects of much criticism when it comes to production delays. While one company works to rationalize a delay in entering new aircraft into service, the rival often uses the other’s delay to its own advantage; in both cases, the public is often entertained by the sometimes creative “spins” on an unfortunate happenstance.
In mid-2011, Airbus executives reluctantly announced a delay in the introduction into service of its new A350-1000 long-range, wide-body jet airliner. The delay, which would span one additional year, meant that the new airplane would not enter service until the middle of 2017. This news was announced (and discussed ad nauseam all the way from the trade show exhibition floor to local tarmacs) during the International Paris-Le Bourget Air Show (http://www.paris-air-show.com/), a popular, global aviation event at which myriad new aircraft and avionics debut on a biennial basis.
The reason for the delay provided by Airbus executives—including Louis Gallois, CEO of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), the parent company of Airbus—was to take advantage of new technology designed to increase the new aircraft model’s performance. Specifically, Rolls-Royce engineers were working on a variation of the Trent XWB engine that would deliver increased payload capacity and range; it would also add $9 million to the 350-1000’s price tag (already $299 million), however.
This geek loves bleeding-edge tech (who doesn’t, right?), especially on commercial airliners, but wonders whether Airbus executives would again opt to delay the A350-1000’s introduction in favor of potential, incremental performance increases.