Airbus joined rival Boeing in switching from aluminum to carbon-fiber composites to build its new jetliner’s frame, reports the Wall Street Journal. Boeing has built the new 787 Dreamliner entirely from composites, which are lighter and easier to maintain. Airbus had held out on the A350, claiming its method of attaching composite panels to a metal frame was superior.
But customers were not persuaded, the Journal reports, worried that the A350 would cost more to maintain than Boeing’s plane. The lighter skeleton also lowers fuel use and thereby increases range. The European company expects to deliver its first A350 in 2013, while the 787 Dreamliner is scheduled for its first flight in November, and delivery in May 2008.