Airbus Sets Maiden Flight For A350

Airbus announced that it has chosen Friday, June 14, 2013 as the date for the maiden flight of its newest jet, the A350.

The European aircraft manufacturer said the flight will take place at 10:00 am local time (4:00 am ET) from the EADS subsidiary’s Toulouse headquarters in the southwest of France.

This maiden flight of Europe’s newest passenger jet comes after seven years of planning, designing, and developing, costing the planemaker an estimate of $15 billion.

The planned flight is seen to set off a fierce competition for big jet orders especially since it will only be three days away from the June 17-23 Paris Airshow.

Airbus has high hopes that its first aircraft, built mainly from lightweight carbon composites, will compete well with its US rival Boeing, and trim the lead in  the market for long-haul, wide-bodied jets. The Airbus A350 will compete against Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, where both use similar technology.

Both aircraft mark the shift to a new generation of fuel-efficient, carbon-plastic jetliners designed to slash airline fuel bills. Fuel expenses comprise about a third of the airline industry’s costs.

The world’s two most dominant aircraft manufacturers are competing for a segment of the market that Boeing estimates to be worth at least $1 trillion over the next two decades.