Mixed with the recent fanfare for Airbus for its recent milestone 10,000th delivery was also the intrigue of an annual delivery goal for one of its newest aircraft tightening by the day.
The aircraft in question is Airbus’ A350, it’s next-generation wide-body rival to the Boeing Co.’s (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner.
The delivery of an A350 to Singapore Airlines last week may have marked number 10,000 overall for Airbus, but it was one of just 28 of that specific aircraft model delivered in a year where the company had projected 50 such deliveries.
However, according to a report from Flightglobal, Airbus’ COO for customers, John Leahy — though admitting that the schedule was tight — said 50 was still the goal and that he would be “very surprised” if the company didn’t meet it.
That indicates a relative flurry of A350 deliveries over the next couple of months, though the company has not detailed delivery plans for the fourth quarter.
That pace has been hampered this year by a slowdown in its interiors supply chain.
But, while reports flew earlier this year of A350s stacking up awaiting completion at the company’s final assembly line in France, the delays did not slow the work on the aircraft with ties to Wichita.
Spirit AeroSystems Inc., Wichita’s largest employer, builds the center fuselage section and other components on the A350 at its plants in Kinston, N.C. and Prestwick, Scotland.
Spirit (NYSE: SPR) earlier this year announced a new agreement on the program with Airbus that will see that work continue through at least 800 of the aircraft.
Tom Gentile, Spirit CEO, said at the time the agreement was announced this summer that Airbus’ own delays hadn’t slowed the pace of A350 work his company was doing.
The Spirit plant in Kinston — where it builds the center fuselage section — was recently slowed by Hurricane Matthew, but it wasn’t yet clear if there would be any delivery impact as a result.
In 2012, when Spirit’s primary manufacturing plant in Wichita was hit by a tornado, the company ramped back up to full production in just a week.
The result of those celebrated efforts was that Boeing, the customer for whom the vast majority of work in Wichita is done, didn’t have to delay a single delivery to one of its own customers.