23 January 2014

The A350-800 is too small and it has more range than required by most of the market. Larger A350-800 to be considered.

Airbus is quietly moving away from the current design of the A350-800 and is considering changes that would make the aircraft larger and likely more economical to operate.

There is a “distinct possibility” that Airbus might make the smallest of the three A350 versions larger than currently planned, according to Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy. The change would lead the aircraft to “sit right on top of the Boeing 787-9.”

Many in the industry have doubted that Airbus will ever build the -800. If the plans are firmed up, the aircraft maker will not build the currently conceived version, but a yet-to-be fully defined aircraft.

Leahy argues that “we are production constrained until beyond 2020” and Airbus wants to use the available slots for the larger versions, which are generating higher revenues.

However, since the last of several fundamental design changes in the A350 program, the -800 has become a shrunken version of the -900, at a size that is not economically optimal. The aircraft also has more range than required by most of the market. Some of its disadvantages could be addressed by shrinking the -800 less.

Airbus is not saying when the current version of the -800 would be available, but Leahy wants to deliver the -1000 before the -800. The -1000 is to enter service in 2017.

The -800, as currently planned, has space for 276 passengers in typical three class layout. It is 60.54m long and has a range of 8,250 nm. By comparison, the A350-900 is 6.3m longer and seats 315 passengers. The baseline A350 has a range of 7,750 nm, according to Airbus.

Leahy makes clear that even if changes are decided, Airbus will not go for an all-new design of the -800 and that it will still be a shrunken version of the -900. The redesigned -800 would likely move close to just under 300 seats while its range would be below the current target, but still above the -900, if no other changes are incorporated. Leahy says that since talks with customers are continuing it has not yet been decided how many rows of seats would be added.

Based on the article “Airbus Considers Larger A350-800” published in Aviation Week


  1. It seems very difficult to understand why anyone would want to buy a plane with only 12% less seats (800 v 900), very little decrease in price, and worse cost per passenger mile - unless the extra range was essential. What other reason could there be to not change an order to the 900 (especially when you certainly can't get an 800 earlier than a 900 ?)

  2. The difference between the variants should be about 20% (like A320). A350-900 is 315pax. In that case A350-1000 should be around 378pax (12-frames stretch over the -900), one frame and 9pax more that current -1000 (and maybe two more LD3 cargo). Thus A350-800 should be 262pax (11 or 12 frames shorter the -900) with two versions: Ultra Long (point-to-point flight with over 9000nm range, MTOW 268t and additional tanks with 21t extra fuel) and Regional (very light weight: smaller engines, lighter wings, without extra tanks, medium range, 5000nm is enough).