Airbus A350 faces delay by up to 6 months

By the Associated Press | November 10, 2011 | 2:15 AM EST

PARIS (AP) — Airbus parent company EADS NV said Thursday it took a euro200 million ($273 million) charge in its third quarter accounts because of a new delay in the launch of its strategic long-range jet the A350XWB.

The European aircraft manufacturer says the A350 lightweight composite jet will enter service during the first half of 2014, up to six months after it was previously expected to begin carrying passengers.

The company gave no explanation for the delay in a statement. The announcement came as EADS announced higher third quarter profit and raised its earnings guidance for the full year.

The A350XWB is a new long-range jet designed to go head-to-head with rival Boeing's much-hyped jet, the 787. Airbus says the use of lightweight carbon composite materials and advances in the aircraft's aerodynamics will make it 25 percent more fuel efficient than current jets. But the program has given Airbus engineers headaches throughout its long development.

Airbus said final assembly of the A350 will start in the first quarter of next year, with entry into service in the first half of 2014.

EADS' net profit in the third quarter rose to euro312 million, up from euro13 million a year earlier. Airbus, the largest part of the company that also includes helicopter maker Eurocopter, satellite builder Astrium and defence electronics firm Cassidian, delivered 376 aircraft during the first nine months of 2011. The company expects to deliver between 520 and 530 aircraft in total this year.