, SYDNEY, Oct 14 – The head of European aerospace giant EADS Monday said its aircraft unit Airbus is on track to deliver the first A350 XWB by the end of next year.
The wide-bodied aircraft is the latest passenger jet from Airbus as the Toulouse-based manufacturer ramps up production in a bid to overtake US rival Boeing and become the world’s biggest plane producer within four or five years.
“We are on track to deliver the first aircraft at the end of 2014. It’s going to be a great aircraft,” said Tom Enders, chief executive of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).
The new fuel-efficient airliner is set to compete with Boeing’s troubled 787 Dreamliner.
“The 350 is a bit behind the 787 in terms of schedule,” Enders admitted during a trip to Sydney, but noted that 750 of the latest model have already been sold.
“I was quite pleased that we were trailing the 787 because by taking our time we could learn some of the lessons from that project,” he said.
Airbus last week unveiled a $9.5 billion deal with Japan Airlines (JAL), challenging Boeing’s dominance in the Japanese market as it struggles with the Dreamliner.
Enders, who was Airbus chief executive from 2007 to 2012, said he hoped the company’s first order from Japan’s flagship carrier would lead to more sales in Tokyo.
“We hope that other actors in Japan see that it’s worldwide, we have the same competition, and look seriously at Airbus products in the near future, he said, referring to the company’s success in competing against Boeing across the globe.