Airbus’s target to get the A350, its next new passenger jet, ready in time for delivery in the first half of 2014 is “tight but it remains feasible”, the head of the European aircraft project said on Thursday.
The lightweight carbon-composite A350 is being developed to compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 777.
Airbus parent EADS last week described the roughly EUR€11 billion (USD$13.84 billion) project as “very challenging”.
Didier Evrard, executive vice president and A350 head, said immediate challenges included building the first airframe, which is destined purely for ground testing, and managing a taut supply chain as Airbus builds up production.
“In terms of suppliers, they are in reasonable shape,” Evrard said. “They all have strong points and less strong points but we have to watch the financial situation.”
Airbus recently bought a struggling German supplier in order to prevent gaps in the supply of parts.
In a key milestone, workers in Toulouse are assembling the first A350 fuselage to be shaken apart in structural tests.
Construction of the first flying A350 will start in the summer.