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First flight of new Airbus plane reopens wide-body race

By Lori Hinnant

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:32 a.m. HST, Jun 14, 2013


PARIS » The Airbus A350's maiden flight ended with a safe landing today, setting the stage for intensifying competition with U.S. rival Boeing in the long-haul wide-body aircraft market.

The four-hour 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 787 and 777. Airspace at the airport in the southern French city of Toulouse, where Airbus has its headquarters, closed for both take-off and landing.

Airbus has 613 orders for the A350, and hopes today'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.

More than half of the twin-engine jet consists of lightweight carbon-fiber designed to save on jet fuel, which makes up half the cost of long-haul flights.

The A350, which was delayed for two years as Airbus hashed out the new design, is a direct competitor with the 787 Dreamliner — minus the lithium ion batteries now under investigation for unexplained smoldering. Airbus abandoned its plans to use the lithium ion batteries despite their advantages in weight, power and re-charging speed.

"The A350 has the same innovations more or less as the Dreamliner, the 787," said Gerard Feldzer, a French aviation expert and former airline pilot. "It is pretty much equivalent, the same amount or proportion of carbon for the lightness of the material, just as many electrical devices."

Boeing's list prices for its 787 line range from $206 million to $243 million. Airbus lists prices ranging from $254 million to $332 million, and had 613 orders as of May, compared with 890 orders for the 787. Steep discounts are common on large orders, although the details are rarely made public.

Airbus claims the A350 burns 25 percent less fuel than the Boeing due to its lighter weight, redesigned Rolls Royce engines and new aerodynamics.

"The first flight is a very special moment in an aerospace company," Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus parent company EADS, said late Thursday.





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Surfer_Dude wrote:
Unless its Boeing I'm not going. I'll never fly a Scarebus. I prefer planes made in America by American workers, not French planes made in France by European workers. If I'm going to pay mega millions for a plane I want to make sure and American worker benefits. And don't give me that cr*p about how some Scarebus parts are made in the USA , bottom line is that when an airline writes that check to pay for that plane (are you listening HAWAIIAN), it goes into the bank account of some euro zone company who doesn't pay any US taxes or puts food on the table for any US workers. Funny that Hawaii is such a big deal union state, but they will fly Hawaiian, an airline whose entire fleet is built by French scabs, without any problem.
on June 14,2013 | 11:44AM
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