Airbus will expand its offering of two new mid-sized planes to three in order to catch up with surging rival Boeing Co., industry sources said on Friday.
Worried that its pair of proposed A350 models aimed at competing with the Boeing 787 due in 2008 will do little to slow sales of Boeing’s larger 777, France-based Airbus will add a third, larger model.
“They are definitely looking at doing three,” one industry source said, adding that the new planes were likely to be named the A350-800, A350-900 and A350-1,000. There was a chance Airbus could go with the name A370, he added.
A second source confirmed the story, saying: “It is designed to take on both the 787 and triple-7.”
A spokesman for Airbus declined to comment on specifics, but said Airbus’ chief executive would provide an update at the year’s biggest air show next week: “Christian Streiff will be responding to feedback from customers received over recent months on Monday.”
The additional model could benefit suppliers such as steelmaker Alcoa Inc. and Goodrich Corp., a maker of nacelles and thrust reversers.
It also means Airbus will look to engine makers GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce for more than the one engine each has so far committed to build as the three models will range from 250 to 400 seats and fly different distances.
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