Airbus put the A350, its first challenger to Boeing’s 787 in the advanced materials era, into the skies of France Friday for a four-hour flight. Here’s how it looked:
To see the landing gear retracting, the Airbus employees clapping, etc., check out this company video on YouTube. (Warning: Annoying soundtrack of soaring, inspirational music.)
The BBC has an interesting piece about how Airbus got to this point with a plane it initially didn’t want to build:
Towards the middle of the last decade, the European manufacturer had its hands full preparing for the launch of its long-delayed A380 superjumbo.
The double-decker giant was a hugely complex machine, and its development costs were spiralling. So Airbus was reluctant to commit billions of dollars to another clean-sheet design.
But, Airbus needed a new product to take on Boeing’s planned Dreamliner, which was already attracting a great deal of interest from airlines.