A350 assembly schedule becoming tighter: EADS

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EADS admits that the schedule for the Airbus A350-900 is becoming tighter as the airframer closes on its crucial final assembly target.

Airbus chief Tom Enders said in January that final assembly of the twinjet, already put back from the end of 2011, would commence in March this year.

But during the disclosure of its full-year results in Paris today, EADS stated that the "schedule is tightening" as Airbus headed for A350 development milestones, "particularly the entry into the final assembly line".

EADS reiterates that the programme "is very challenging".

The slide in the final assembly schedule towards the end of 2011 emerged after manufacture of the rear wing spar took longer than expected, and Airbus also admitted difficulties with detailed carbonfibre parts.

Absent components had held up the assembly process and Airbus had been forced to delay final assembly of the first aircraft, the static airframe.

Airbus expects to deliver 570 commercial aircraft this year from its A320, A330 and A380 lines, and predicts that gross orders will exceed this figure.