Business

Boeing rival Airbus cheers maiden flight of A350

PARIS — Airbus sent a new wide-body plane into the skies Friday that sets the stage for intensifying competition with US rival Boeing.

After years of delays and a revamp that cost billions, the A350 cruised for four hours above southern France. Most importantly, it then landed safely. It met ear-to-ear smiles — and some sighs of relief — among Airbus engineers and executives.

The maiden flight marks a key step on the path to full certification for the jet, which can carry 250 to 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 new 787, known as the Dreamliner.

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Airbus has 613 orders for the A350, and hopes Friday’s flight will bring it momentum heading into next week’s Paris Air Show.

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More than half of the twin-engine A350 consists of lightweight carbon-fiber designed to save on jet fuel, which makes up half the cost of long-haul flights.

Airbus says the A350 is 25 percent more fuel-efficient than comparable planes.

Associated Press