SNAP­SHOT

Va­le­rian Ho re­calls the birth of the Euro­pean air­craft man­u­fac­turer

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS -

Chart­ing the cre­ation and rise of Air­bus, Europe’s an­swer to Boe­ing

In the early 20th cen­tury, Boe­ing dom­i­nated the avi­a­tion in­dus­try. But in 1967, the seeds were sown for a Euro­pean ri­val.

At a meet­ing in July, 1967, min­is­ters from France, Ger­many and Bri­tain agreed “for the pur­pose of strength­en­ing Euro­pean co­op­er­a­tion in the field of avi­a­tion tech­nol­ogy and thereby pro­mot­ing eco­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal progress in Europe, to take ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures for the joint de­vel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion of an air­bus.”

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, the “fathers” of Air­bus were formed. They were French en­gi­neer Roger Béteille, who was ap­pointed tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of the A300 pro­gramme; Henri Ziegler, pres­i­dent of Sud Avi­a­tion, named gen­eral man­ager of Air­bus In­dus­trie; and Ger­man politi­cian Franz-Josef Strauss, as the chair­man of the su­per­vi­sory board.

Two years later at Le Bour­get air­show, the French trans­port min­is­ter sat down with the Ger­man eco­nom­ics min­is­ter to re­view a cabin mock-up of a new A300 air­craft. The two politi­cians signed an agree­ment of­fi­cially launch­ing the A300, which be­came the world’s first twin-engine wide­body pas­sen­ger jet. The A300 project was the for­mal start­ing point of the Air­bus pro­gramme, and the air­craft fi­nally took off in 1974.

In the early 1980s, Air­bus in­tro­duced a shorter-fuse­lage A310 de­riv­a­tive. Later that decade, the sin­gle-aisle A320 was launched – one of the most suc­cess­ful air­craft fam­i­lies in his­tory with the A320 and A321 con­tin­u­ing to prove pop­u­lar in the avi­a­tion mar­ket to­day.

The 1990s saw Air­bus in­tro­duc­ing its long-range A330 and A340 fleet, and in 2007 the 600-seat A380 be­gan com­mer­cial oper­a­tion, com­pet­ing with Boe­ing’s le­gendary B747. To meet evolv­ing mar­ket needs, Air­bus launched its ef­fi­cient A350 XWB twin-engine jet­liner in Jan­uary 2015, with Qatar Air­ways its first cus­tomer.

Above: Air­bus’s A300B; and in­te­ri­ors of the plane at the Aero­scopia mu­seum in Toulouse

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