Airbus A350 Too Heavy

But company says plane development still on schedule.

European plane maker Airbus has a weight problem with its next-generation A350 passenger jet, a German press report said on May 21.

"With a program like this one, weight is a never-ending battle," an Airbus spokeswoman told AFP. "It is not abnormal to have weight problems at this stage of development. What counts is that we deliver the performance promised to clients," such as fuel consumption and range."

The company plans to finalize a detailed design of its long-haul aircraft by the end of the year, she added.

The spokeswoman was responding to a report in the German business daily Handelsblatt that the A350 had excess weight of at least 8 tons owing to problems stemming from its novel carbon fiber structure. Handelsblatt did not identify its sources.

Airbus had tackled similar issues with the superjumbo A380 plane, one of several difficulties reported two years ago that led to costly production delays for the world's largest passenger airliner, the spokeswoman said.

The group has not yet provided details on the projected weight of the A350, Handelsblatt reported, adding that an initial blueprint with a planned weight of 124 tons was discarded in 2006. The report said Airbus also needed systems suppliers to help develop the A350, which was designed to compete with Boeing's future B787.

The German publication also reported that problems related to the A350 cabin's electronic shielding and noise insulation still need to be resolved. But Louis Gallois, chief executive of Airbus parent company EADS, said on May 20 that development of the A350 was on schedule, the newspaper added.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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