Airbus A350 passes flight test
Airbus’ next-generation A350 plane landed safely in southern France after its first test flight on Friday.india Updated: Jun 14, 2013 21:13 IST
Airbus’ next-generation A350 plane landed safely in southern France after its first test flight on Friday.
After just over four hours in the air, the new plane touched down to cheers from Airbus employees and hundreds of aviation enthusiasts, who had assembled to watch the landmark flight.
The successful initial test flight, from a small airport near Toulouse, will have come as a huge relief to everyone involved with the European manufacturer, which is relying on the A350 to help it keep pace with US rival Boeing.
Much like its competitor — Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner that has been in service since September 2011 — the A350 makes extensive use of light composite materials that reduce fuel consumption and costs.
"I’m known to be sometimes a bit cold-blooded. I can tell you it was emotional," said Fabrice Bregier, head of Airbus.
A British and a French test pilot were at the helm of the A350 on its maiden flight, assisted by a flight engineer in the cockpit and three other engineers at the back, all wearing orange jumpsuits.
"It is a great day for Airbus. A maiden flight doesn’t happen that often," said Tom Enders, the head of Airbus parent EADS.
The sortie is a milestone for Airbus, as it battles against Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner for sales of a new generation of lightweight carbon-composite jets designed to save fuel and open up new routes.