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Airbus debuts entry into wide-body jet field

By Associated Press


The Airbus A350 makes a pass over the airport during its maiden flight from Blagnac airport near Toulouse, southwestern France, Friday, June 14, 2013. The Airbus A350 has taken off on its maiden flight, setting the stage for intensifying competition with U.S. rival Boeing in the long-haul wide-body aircraft market. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

PARIS »Airbus sent a new wide-body plane into the skies Friday that sets the stage for intensifying competition with U.S. rival Boeing — with consequences for jobs, airlines' investments and the reputations of the powerful plane-makers.

After years of delays and a revamp that cost billions, the A350 cruised for four hours in partly cloudy skies above Toulouse in southern France.

Most important, it then landed safely.

It met ear-to-ear smiles — and some sighs of relief — among the Airbus engineers and executives who helped the plane reach its maiden journey.

The flight marks a key step on the path to full certification for the jet, which can carry between 250 and 400 passengers and is the European aircraft maker's best hope for catching up in a long-haul market dominated by Boeing's 777 and the 787, known as the Dreamliner.

"At the end of the day, you need to make it real, and this is the time for making it real. So I am very proud already," Didier Evrard, head of the A350 program, said while watching the flight. "But I will be still nervous until it comes back."

Airspace over Toulouse, where Airbus has its headquarters, closed for both takeoff and landing.

Airbus has 613 orders for the A350 and hopes Friday's flight will bring it momentum heading into next week's Paris Air Show, which is already shaping up as a battle of the wide-body planes.

"There is a lot of money at stake, a lot of employment at stake. This is an extremely important political, social and economic issue," said Gerald Feldzer, a French aviation expert and former airline pilot.

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Skydakine wrote:
Hawaiian Air's first A350-800 will be in Hawaiian Skies in 2017.
on June 15,2013 | 05:43AM
atilter wrote:
why? is euro economic recovery more vital than us'? giving justification and rationale for choice could be interesting!
on June 16,2013 | 03:11AM
atilter wrote:
horse head undah da sheet by french connection??
on June 16,2013 | 03:13AM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Thanks Hawaiian for keeping those French workers employed. (Please no posts about how Scarebus buys a few American made parts for their planes). Bottom line is that Hawaiian writes checks for millions that are deposited in France. All you union people from Hawaii who fly to the mainland on Hawaiian, are flying on planes made by French scabs. Think about it.
on June 16,2013 | 10:42AM
mustangguru wrote:
Why not? Unions are,pricing labor out of the market.
on June 16,2013 | 08:40PM
halpilot wrote:
Surfer_Dude: Hate to rain on your parade here but did you know that Boeing, a USA based company outsources a major part of the building of the 787?
on June 17,2013 | 01:07PM
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