Friday, June 14, 2013
The Airbus A350 has made a successful maiden flight, taking off and landing at an airport near Toulouse, France.
Today's four-hour flight marks a key step on the path to full certification for the French company's first all-new plane in eight years. And it sets the stage for intensifying competition with U.S. rival Boeing.
There are a lot of Wichita aviation workers involved in the plane getting off the ground.
Some 150 engineers at the Airbus Wichita Engineering facility have worked six years on designing part of the fuselage and wing sections of the plane.
Many of those employees arrived very early to work in the Old Town area of Wichita to watch the flight on big screens.
Ryan Uptor is Airbus Engineering Project Lead and says, "This is the culmination of many years for many of the engineers in the office. Everyone should be proud. The Wichita community should be proud and I am too. It's just a whole lot of excitement."
Spirit Aerosystems is also very involved in design and production work on sections of the fuselage and wings of the A-350.
The A350, which can carry up to 400 people, is made of lightweight carbon fiber designed to save on jet fuel. Airbus claims the A350 burns 25 percent less fuel than Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
The new Airbus jet doesn't have the lithium ion batteries now under investigation for unexplained smoldering in Boeing 787s. Airbus abandoned its plans to use the batteries despite their advantages in weight, power and re-charging speed.
Airbus says it 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 shaping up as a battle of the wide-body planes.