April 5, 2012 Airbus starts the A350 line
Today marked the start of Airbus’ A350 production line, with the static test plane. Before I talk too much about the plane itself. I wanted to talk a little about the Airbus v. Boeing debate and the Airbus product line generally. Much virtual ink is spilled about the merits of Airbus v. Boeing aircraft. This is largely a myth, while the companies do compete generally, their products do not compete specifically. What I mean by this is that if you put the two lines next to each other, there are no true equivalent products on seat capacity. For any given seat capacity the buyer wants, there is only product that perfectly fits that need.The same is true for the A350
The A350 is Airbus’ response to the 787, except not really. The A350 relies more on carbon fiber than their previous offerings, but the expected capacity is closer to the 777 then the 787 or A330. Currently there are 561 orders for this plane which is very good. However, recently orders have tailed off. Since 2010 there have only been 53 orders for the aircraft, which shows that that maybe this plane does not have a long term strategy.
Both Boeing and Airbus have made extraordinary promises when it comes to performance not just for their initial frames but for the stretched models of the 787 and 350. It will be interesting to see in the coming years if they can keep those promises.