14th June 2013
At the Airbus Filton site where I currently work, for about 2 hours during another usually casual Friday work atmosphere, work completely stopped for more than an hour. This wasn’ t because electricity was down as if we were working in Lagos, Nigeria, and Filton employees were standing by for the generator to be powered on. The reason was that A350 XWB, an aircraft that most would have been involved in its development in smaller or larger ways, was having it very first flight – MSN1’s very own Bar Mitzvah. Their baby as she is affectionately referred to by many, was now ready to fly.
10th June 2008 (roughly)
All aboard a chartered coach heading for a field near Heathrow, because the local authority was concerned that an aircraft flying near a motorway could stray out the reach of its on-the-ground controller. This wasn’t testing for the latest fighter pilot-displacing UAV, but the first flight for a model aircraft built as part of a final year group project. No Champagne, no media coverage (Airbus TV, local, national), no specially ordered cakes or large audience well past double figures. There was, though, just as much anticipation, preparation, a fews eyes watching and futures at stake.
The success of the A350 XWB has meant that the company behind it has captured 678 orders already, 69 at the recent Paris airshow where the aircraft flew by. The timing clearly a strategic move.
Airbus now has to concentrate on delivering its orders on time, so it’s back to work across the Airbus sites all over Europe and the fantastic ‘capture the flag’ site in Mobil, Alabama (A320 final assembly). When the noise of your success is made in your rival’s backyard, it is sure to make him green with envy, or is that fuel efficiency?