Airbus is preparing the second A350-900 for delivery to Qatar Airways later this week. 

The airline got its first A350 in late December and started flying the daily Doha-Frankfurt route on Jan. 15. Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker said at the Frankfurt ceremony last month that he expects to take delivery of the second aircraft within three weeks, but more than six weeks have passed since then. A Qatar Airways official said on Monday that the aircraft is “on schedule to begin on the Frankfurt route on March 1 as indicated earlier.”

Qatar Airways delayed acceptance of its first A350 in December by a week due to “supplier issues,” and in mid-2014 refused to take delivery of its first Airbus A380 for several months because it was not happy with the quality of some cabin interiors. It is unclear what caused the current slippage, and Airbus and Qatar are not revealing details of the progress in the delivery process and why the aircraft has not been handed over earlier. It is, however, highly unusual not to allow more than a few days between acceptance of the aircraft and first scheduled flight.

Qatar Airways has replaced a Boeing 787-8 on the Doha-Frankfurt route with its first A350 and it is making Frankfurt the initial destination for the second aircraft. Qatar Airways is currently lobbying for better access to the German market and has used the A350 to showcase what it perceives as its superior product compared to Lufthansa

Al Baker is in Berlin next week for the ITB, the world’s largest travel and tourism show. He is expected to reveal initial operating data for the A350 and to advertise the arrival of the second aircraft.

Airbus also has an incentive to finalize the delivery this week, as Airbus Group, the company’s parent, holds its annual press conference on Feb. 27. 

However, as data from the Aviation Week Intelligence Network’s Fleet database show, there have only been four cases in aviation history where the gap between the delivery of the first and second aircraft was larger: The A380, the DC-9 and the Convair 880, while the VFW-614 holds the record as having the longest gap between first and second deliveries (see accompanying table). 

Even the Boeing 787, plagued with well-publicized production issues, saw the second aircraft delivered only 18 days after the first. If the transfer of title took place on Tuesday, 68 days would lie between the first and second A350 handover.

The delivery gaps varied widely, from zero days (where the first two aircraft were delivered on the same day) to more than 90 days. There is little-discernible pattern, such as widebodies versus narrowbodies.

Airbus hoped to be producing two-three A350s per month by November 2014, and was targeting three aircraft per month by the turn of the year. The ramp-up is planned to see a rate of five per month by the end of 2015, and a rate 10 per month by the end of 2018.

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