As Airbus A350 Rolls Out, US Airways Awaits a 2017 Delivery

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- Airbus rolled out the first A350 from the paint shop, perhaps positioning the European aircraft maker to take advantage of Boeing's long series of 787 problems.

The A350 is scheduled to fly for Qatar Airways by the end of 2014. US Airways , which operates the world's largest Airbus fleet, expects to take delivery of its first A350 in 2017, by which time it is expected to have merged with American .

US Airways is scheduled to receive four A350s in the fourth quarter of 2017 and four in 2018. The US Airways fleet includes 266 Airbus aircraft as well as 80 Boeing aircraft. Additionally, United has an existing order for 25 A350s, with deliveries to begin in 2016.

The A350 is designed to compete with both the Boeing 777 and the 787. Successful execution by Airbus could provide a favorable contrast to the many woes in the execution of the 787 program, which delivered its first aircraft three years late. This year, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded the 787 for three months due to unexplained fires in the lithium-ion batteries on two of the planes.

As the drama of trying to make a first A350 delivery on schedule unfolds, an early proof point will involve Airbus' ability to fly the aircaft at the Paris Air Show next month. "Airbus engineers are working 13-hour days to get the company's latest A350 plane off the ground in time to scoop the headlines at next month's Paris air show," Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

In a report issued Monday, RBC Capital Markets analyst Rob Stallard reiterated an outperform on Airbus parent EADS, which reported Monday that earnings rose as first-quarter aircraft deliveries more than doubled from the same quarter a year earlier.