First A350 flight reopens wide-body race

Flight challenges Boeing ahead of Paris Air Show

A year ago, at the Paris Air Show’s related event in the UK, Boeing beat Airbus in the number of orders announced. This year, the two rivals are again battling for the skies as the well-attended air show begins again in Paris.
Following years of delays and a costly revamp, Airbus’ successful flight of the new A350 XWB on Friday hits back at its US rival. The aircraft, which Airbus describes as an “all-new mid-size long-range product line”, cruised for four hours above the manufacturer’s Toulouse base and landed smoothly.
 “At the end of the day you need to make it real, and this is the time for making it real,” Didier Evrard, head of the A350 program, told AP while watching the flight. “So I am very proud already. But I will be still nervous until it comes back.”
The plane is Airbus’ best hope for catching up in a long-haul market dominated by the Boeing 777 and 787. Airbus has 613 orders for the A350 and hopes Friday’s flight will bring it extra momentum as the Paris Air Show – described by some in the industry as the battle of the wide-body planes – starts.
“There is a lot of money at stake, a lot of employment at stake. This is an extremely important political, social and economic issue,” Gerald Feldzer, a French aviation expert, said.
[photo courtesy Airbus]


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