The Airbus A350, Europe’s newest jet, took to the the skies on Friday for its maiden flight.
Airbus is hoping this ‘widebody’ aircraft will allow it to take advantage of the rapidly growing demand for air travel in Asia.
This first flight camea few days before the Paris Air Show, an annual run-in between Airbus and US manufacturer, Boeing.
Over 10,000 employees watched the plane take off from Airbus’ Toulouse factory.
One employee said it was an emotional experience: “To see a brand new aircraft, all new, take off like that for the first time, all the work that has been done on it – it moves me.”
The plane is intended to compete with Boeing’s 787 ‘Dreamliner’, also a widebody.
Orders are already flowing in. There have been 617 so far for all three versions of the A350, meanwhile Boeing has 890 orders on its books for the Dreamliner.
It is hoped the A350 will dispel Airbus’ reputation for dysfunction which delayed the introduction of a previous plane, the A380.
Both Airbus and Boeing see widebody jets as the future.