Cathay Pacific’s first A350-900 completed its maiden flight today in Toulouse. The aircraft next enters the final phase of production for cabin completion, with more ground checks and test flights before being prepared for delivery in 2Q16.  The aircraft will be the first of 48 A350 XWBs for Cathay Pacific. Cathay Pacific’s A350 XWB fleet plan includes 22 A350-900s and 26 A350-1000s.Cathay Pacific A350 XWB TAKE OFF_

Conversations with people in the know tell us the A350-1000 is moving along at a faster clip than the -900 did.   Airbus is benefiting as its A350 assembly team (and supply chain) deploy lessons learned from the -900 to the -1000.  Just as we have seen at Boeing with the 787-9 versus the -8, the learning curve is playing out.  Clean sheet designs come with “unknown unknowns” that inevitably cause delays.  But derivatives demonstrate learning across the entire supply chain and typically run better.

Which is why for Airbus and Cathay this first delivery is so important.  Cathay has the third largest number of A350-1000s on order (after Qatar and United).  Cathay’s first A350 is running late. But the follow on aircraft should be more on-time and the -1000 even more so.

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