Airbus Wants To Build A 400+ Seat A350 Variant To Rival The Boeing 777X

Now that the A380 program has ended, speculation has focused on what will be the next big project for Airbus

The aerospace manufacturer has hinted at making an extended A350 variant that could go head to head with the Boeing 777X.

What are the details?

At this point, it is only a rumor, but there is a strong possibility that Airbus will offer a further extension on their A350-1000 to rival the 777X.

In the past, Airbus was reluctant to explore a further stretch (only offering it to Singapore during the Paris Air Show in 2017) as it would have cannibalized capacity from the 500 seater A380. But now that program is retired, Airbus can dust off old plans.

Currently, it seems only Qatar is interested in a possible stretch instead of replacing their A380s with 787s, but other airlines like Qantas might quickly snap up the aircraft if the extension comes with a long-range option (for their proposed routes from Sydney to London).

In a previous article, we compared the A350 vs the 777X. The conclusion of that article is whilst the A350-1000 is superior in some ways, the Boeing 777X-9 variant trumps the Airbus aircraft.

qatar airways
This infographic explains the efficiency of the A350-1000. Image: Airbus

What would a A350-2000 look like?

The new stretch, dubbed the -2000 by industry professionals, would only be an additional four meters long (79 meters in total). But this stretch would allow another four rows (approx 45 more seats) on board. This increase in seats and exit limit would place the A350 strentch from 379 seats to 414 seats (In a three class configuration), one seat less than the 777-9.

777-9 777x
There are currently two designs for the Boeing 777-9, a two class layout and a three class layout.

It would only require another 3% thrust to fly and thus the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines would be suffecient to fly the aircraft with no redisign required.

This aircraft would have a reduced range of around 14,100 km (7,600 nmi), but still competitive with the Boeing 777-9.

A rendering of the 777-9X and 777-8X.
A rendering of the 777-9X and 777-8X. Photo: Boeing

However, some say that Airbus is waiting for a next generation engine before commiting to this design (Rumored to be called the ‘Ultra Fan’, this new engine would make the aircraft more fuel efficient than the Boeing 787).

As many A350s have yet to be constructed, orders can easily be changed. This new design would not require a great deal of effort to be implemented.

What do you think? Will airbus futher stretch the A350 to competed with the Boeing 777-9?