The Airbus A350 in Toulouse, France.
The A350 XWB, the futuristic jet Airbus has built to compete with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, will take to the skies for its first test flight on Friday morning, Airbus confirmed today.
The A350 has been in the works since 2004, and is designed to offer new levels of passenger comfort, aerodynamics, and, most of all, fuel efficiency.
The largest variant of the plane, the A350-1000, will be able to fly 350 passengers nearly 10,000 miles on a single tank of gas.
Boeing got the jump on Airbus by starting deliveries of the Dreamliner, which also focuses on fuel-efficient flying, in September 2011. But two battery malfunctions a week apart in January 2013 led to a federally-mandated grounding that hurt the American planemaker's reputation and has cost it hundreds of millions of dollars.
Eager to avoid similar problems, Airbus COO John Leahy hesitated to announce the date of the A350's first test flight, citing Boeing's problems.
“We are not going to fall victim like Boeing did with the 787," he told Aviation Week.
The A350 will have its flight Friday morning in Toulouse, where Airbus is headquartered.
— Airbus (@Airbus) June 11, 2013
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