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Airbus A350 XWB faces delay

The Airbus A350 XWB is the latest new airplane program to face a delay.

Airbus’ parent company, EADS, announced today that entry-into-service for its long-range composite jet is now expected in the first half of 2014. That could mean up to a six-month delay.  It was originally scheduled for 2013.

The company also took a $273 million charge linked to the program.

“I am confident the commercial aircraft market combined with our strong backlog will sustain our growth in the years to come,” Louis Gallois, EADS CEO, said in a statement. “Our large program developments, especially the A350, continue to have our highest management attention.”

Spirit AeroSystems is designing and building the composite center fuselage section and front wing spar for the plane at its facility in Kinston, N.C. Spirit shipped the first upper section to its plant in Saint-Nazaire, France, last month. It plans to ship the lower section yet this year. The company won the contract in 2008.

Airbus’ announcement of a schedule slide will not have an impact on Spirit, said company spokesman Ken Evans.

“We continue working with our customer to meet their requirements and delivery schedule for the pre-final assembly phase,” Evans said. “We’re very focused, and we need to be on any development program like this. That’s unchanged.”

Maturity of the A350′s main components at the start of final assembly remains one of the company’s top priorities, Gallois said.

The Airbus A350 will compete with Boeing’s composite 787 Dreamliner. Boeing faced three years of delays on the program.

The A350 program is advancing, EADS said. Manufacturing and pre-assembly of the A350-900 are progressing across all pre-final assembly sites, it said. The start of the final assembly line is now scheduled for the first quarter of 2012.

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