The big picture: Airbus marks 50th anniversary with formation flight

29 May 2019 by Jenni Reid
Airbus 50th anniversary flyover

Airbus has marked 50 years since an agreement was reached to build the A300 – the world’s first twin-engine, wide-body airliner – with a formation flight over France.

The flight marked the 1969 Paris Air Show, where French Transport Minister Jean Chamant and West German Economics Minister Karl Schiller signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop and produce the aircraft, after Britain withdrew from the project. Airbus Industrie, a consortium of European manufacturers, would build it.

At the time, American companies dominated aircraft manufacturing, according to Airbus. The A300 was envisaged as a smaller, lighter and more economical rival to three-engine jets. Air France was its launch customer.

Airbus flyover

Airbus marked today’s anniversary by flying its commercial aircraft family in formation with the Patrouille de France, the aerobatic demonstration unit of the French Air Force.

Its commercial jetliner families currently in production are the A220, A320, A330, A350 XWB and A380.

A planned low pass over Toulouse Airport was cancelled due to the weather.

Airbus anniversary flyover

Airbus said it would launch a campaign showcasing key moments of progress over the past five decades, with a new story released every day for the next 50 days.

Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus said: “Airbus’ story is one of ambition and progress, and has been a showcase of European integration. Over five decades, we have brought together civil and defence aviation businesses from throughout the continent.

“For 50 years, we have pioneered many firsts through our passion and innovation, transforming the industry and helping to move society forward. Airbus is a story of incredible men and women, a story of great achievements in the past and, above all, in the future.”

Airbus aircraft

You can read an interactive history of the company here.

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