Airbus eyes to catch Boeing with next-generation plane

Airbus eyes to catch Boeing with next-generation plane

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Despite dethroning Boeing in the medium-haul segment, Airbus needs to catch up with its rival in the long-range market domainted by the US firm.

Airbus’s new A350 plane is due to take off on its much-anticipated maiden flight today, a milestone for an aircraft the firm hopes will help close the gap with rival Boeing in the lucrative long-haul market.

Weather permitting, the next-generation plane will lift off from the southwestern city of Toulouse at 0800GMT with six people on board – a British and a French test pilot, a flight engineer and three other engineers at the back.

The test flight of the long-haul plane – more than half of which is made of composite materials – comes just days ahead of the Bourget air show where Boeing and Airbus traditionally vie for the spotlight over plane orders.

If the maiden flight is successful, Airbus will enter a test flying period it hopes will last less than 18 months, and plans to deliver its first A350 at the end of next year.