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Paris Air Show sees Airbus A350 vie with Dreamliner

Photo: AFP

The European Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner - fuel-saving, medium-sized planes built for long-haul flights - are battling for attention and sales as the Paris Air Show gets underway.


Jets built for long-haul international flights are battling for market share at this year’s Paris Air Show, a week-long event that got underway on Monday and in which the long-standing rivalry between Europe’s Airbus plane manufacturer and its US archrival Boeing is once more set to take centre stage.

Airbus tried to steal the show before the mammoth tradeshow even began by sending its new A350 airplane on its first test flight in the southwestern city of Toulouse on Friday. The aircraft – which relies on light composite materials to reduce fuel needs – will directly compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for long-distance flights.


Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus’ parent company, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), upped the anti over the weekend, predicting that the French-based company would secure “a few hundred” plane orders during the show.

The A350 was expected to sail through the skies again on Friday, in what will be its third voyage and a first before French President François Hollande. Six years after the Dreamliner’s launch, Airbus is aiming at quickly catching up lost time with the A350.

Boeing’s Dreamliner was also expected to fly over Le Bourget airport north of Paris by the end of the week, in an effort to show potential buyers that problems related to overheating batteries, which had grounded the jets for three months, had been solved.

The Seattle-based plane maker was also hoping to steal some headlines with the news that it is launching a larger, 323-seat 787-10 model, with an announcement widely expected at the world’s largest aerospace event on Tuesday.

Boeing has already secured 10 orders for the bigger 787 version, which targets the quickly-expanding Asian markets, according to unnamed industry sources cited by Reuters.

Little military fanfare

Industry analysts said the Paris Air Show would be important for smaller players as well, including Canada’s Bombardier Inc, which is also using fuel-saving technology for its smaller CSeries.

Brazil’s Embraer is expected to announce an upgrade to its narrow-body, medium-haul E-Jet family of planes that have found commercial success in regional flight markets.

Budget concerns at the US Defence Department have resulted in a relatively meagre showing on the military side of the event.

Nevertheless, Russian plane makers were ready to reveal – for the first time outside the country – the Sukhoi-35 combat jet and the Kamov-52 Alligator attack helicopter.

In other defence industry news, French manufacturer Dassault said on Sunday it was ready to launch a program to build surveillance drones in cooperation with EADS and Italy’s Finmeccanica. European countries have so far relied on the US and Israel for the unmanned aircraft.

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