The announcement (click here
) was quite interesting and there are some ambiguities there.
Qantas is today announcing several important developments for Project Sunrise ahead of a final go/no go decision, which will now take place in March 2020.
The decision to go ahead or not to go is expected in March 2020. However, it has already decided on the platform.
Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight to deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes.
This raises the following question whether the A350-1000 would actually be ordered subsequent to the decision if ever it is a no-go decision. It is very likely the answer would be affirmative. However, in that case they do not need to have the increased maximum take-off weight nor the additional fuel capacity.
If they decide to order the A350-1000, but not to go with the Project Sunrise then it would be more reasonable to not modify the aircraft. It would be easier and cheaper for everybody.
Airbus has agreed to extend the deadline to confirm delivery slots from February 2020 to March 2020. This provides additional time to negotiate an industrial agreement without impacting the planned start date of Project Sunrise flights in the first half of calendar 2023.
The production slots must be secured and if ever the decision is to go ahead with the Project Sunrise then there are several steps that need to be done on the aircraft side.
- Airbus will have to discuss with the regulatory authorities on the certification basis (6 months)
- Design of the modified system: plumbing, fuel pumps, fuel system logic, refueling panel, Flight Management Computer and software, etc.
- RFP with the suppliers of the additional fuel capacity, actual production
- all the documentations like Weight and Balance Manual, AFM and so on and so forth
I must have forgotten other details. In essence, three years lead time to EIS is in my opinion very tight.
I expect the Project Sunrise would not start before 2024 and God knows what would happen between now and then.
On top of the aircraft itself there are too many uncertainties like the regulatory approval or result of the negotiations with the pilots.
Are they going to impose some industrial risk-taking to Airbus in term of design and manufacturing? I do not know, but in my opinion the timing is extremely tight and it is unlikely to be achieved.