Airbus to redesign A350

The plane will be called the A350XWB for "extra-wide body," the company announced at Britain's Farnborough Air Show, one of the biggest events in the aeronautical industry.

A redesign was long expected for the plane, which was billed as a rival to Boeing Co.'s long-range, fuel-efficient 787. It had won just 100 orders compared to 360 firm orders for the 787.

Tom Enders, the joint CEO of Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., had confirmed this weekend that the company would announce the revamp at Farnborough, increasing its development cost to about US$10 billion from the previously estimated US$5.7 billion.

Airbus has been struggling to get back on track since the announcement last month of a further seven-month delay to its A380 superjumbo program sent EADS shares plunging and led to the departure of Airbus Chief Executive Gustav Humbert and EADS co-CEO Noel Forgeard.

The European plane maker also reported last week that its sales fell by more than half in the first six months of the year to 117 planes, compared to Boeing's 480 orders for the same period.

The 555-seat A380 superjumbo will be taking part in the daily flying displays at Farnborough, where 300,000 visitors are expected, but Airbus executives could face a tougher crowd indoors as they seeks to reassure customers and investors at Farnborough that it is on the road to recovery.

Boeing unveiled no orders at a news conference at Farnborough early Monday, but airlines were expected to announce new plane purchases from both plane makers later in the show.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Alan Mulally said the company is talking to 25 potential buyers for the 747-8, a larger version of its jumbo developed in response to the troubled A380.

He declined to identify the airlines but said many already operated 747s. "You can just look down the 747 fleets and see who they are," he said.

Boeing acknowledged Sunday that its 787 Dreamliner is overweight and experiencing delays with some suppliers, while stressing that the jet remains on budget and on schedule, according to the AP.

Mulally declined to specify where the problems were occurring but emphasized that the plane remains on course for its first flight in mid-2007 and entry into service the following year.

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