has delayed by about three months the ’s entry into service (EIS) as it addresses problems with automated drilling for the aircraft’s wings.
The delay pushes the A350-900 variant’s EIS into the second half of 2014, parent companysaid July 27 in a statement discussing its first-half financial results. Because of this, EADS incurred a €124 million ($152.6 million) charge in the second quarter of 2012.
Wing assembly for the A350 has been a concern for some time, and in July during the Farnborough air show program head Didier Evrard told Aviation Week that slow progress with the automatic drilling process had delayed fatigue testing by four weeks. At the time, Airbus, which had reverted to manual drilling for the wings, said it hoped to mitigate that delay with the help of a physical mockup in Bremen, Germany, although Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier also noted that component maturity for its A350 program was more important to the European airframer than a strict adherence to a final assembly schedule for the first A350 test aircraft.
EADS now says the program remains a challenge despite progress, including the delivery of the fully equipped front fuselage section of the first flying aircraft to the final assembly line.
“Our key programs, particularly at Airbus, continue to command our utmost attention,” EADS says in its half-year earnings report. “On A350 especially, maturity of sections delivered to the final assembly is of key importance to us as we prepare for a robust production ramp-up.”
Enders, when asked if he is confident the A350 introduction will not be delayed more than three months, said, “Can I be absolutely confident there will be no further delays? No. You cannot be absolutely confident at that stage of a program. But program management is doing all it can to take on these challenges. It is the nature of that kind of business, particularly at the end of development and the transition to the first series production aircraft that you get hit always by a lot of unexpected problems. We are making good progress on the aircraft but we have some challenges.”