STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Airbus A350 takes maiden flight

CNC report form Paris
Added On June 15, 2013

Airbus has sent its first A350 XWB, a new wide-body plane, into the skies.

That sets the stage for intensifying competition with its U.S. rival Boeing.

The A350 took its maiden flight on Friday from an airport close to the company's headquarters in southern France.

It cruised for four hours in the sky.

Airbus says the first flight indicates the beginning of a test campaign totaling around 2,500 flight hours with a fleet of five development aircraft.

It also marks a key step on the path to full certification for the jet.

Prior to entry into service in the second half of next year with first operator Qatar Airways, the plane needs to get certification by the European EASA and U.S. FAA airworthiness authorities.

The A350 is Airbus' all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions and seating between 270 and 350 passengers.
  
Airbus claims the A350 is 25 percent more fuel-efficient than comparable planes.

It's the European aircraft-maker's best hope for catching up in a long-haul, fuel-efficient market dominated by Boeing's 777 and the 787, known as the Dreamliner.

More than 10,000 hours of ground tests had been done on the airliner before the flight.

Over the next year five test planes will criss-cross the globe in the warmest and coldest regions.
  
If all goes well, first delivery is expected at the end of 2014.
  
The A350 XWB has already won 613 orders worldwide.