• Airbus Aircraft: Ascending the heights of aerospace excellence

Did you know that one of the largest aircraft manufacturers is European? But that hasn’t always been the case. Up until 60 years ago, the power was in the U.S. market.

Until Airbus came along! Its current power is well exemplified by the fact that an aircraft belonging to the Airbus A320 family takes off or lands in the world every 2 seconds.

And how did Airbus manage to get into the ranking of the best manufacturers? What is its history? In this post we will explain how Airbus was born, how it produced its most famous models and much more.

Are you staying to get to know the European giant in depth?

The birth of the European giant

We go back to the 1950s, when the American manufacturers, Lockheed Martin, Douglas and Boeing, held the power of the aircraft industry.

The European manufacturers were not successful, so they joined forces to create an innovative brand that would give visibility to the European industry.

Thus, as early as 1960, the idea of a new aircraft was born, with a 126-passenger capacity and a cost of two pounds per seat mile.

It was a risky operation – no one had ever done it before! So the partners asked some European governments for financial support, and the giant was born!

Key moments in its development

In 1965 came one of the milestones for Airbus. There, the founding airlines, Sud Aviation, Arbeitsgemeinschaft Airbus, and Hawker Siddeley, discussed the necessary characteristics of the aircraft.

During the first two years of the merger, the companies wanted to work on the design of the Airbus 300, the Concorde and the Dassault Mercure, which meant taking a lot of risks. The French government’s support hung in the balance, while the British government withdrew on 10 April, 1969, and Germany, on the other hand, increased its shareholding to 50%.

Thus Airbus Industrie was officially born on December 18, 1970, under the domination of the companies Aérospatiale and Deutsche Airbus, mostly, and Hawker Siddeley and Fokker, to a lesser extent.

The A300: The first of the Airbus aircraft

The Airbus A300 was the first commercial aircraft designed by Airbus, and was introduced on 30 May, 1974.

This first model was a pioneer in the industry, as it incorporated improvements such as the reduction of the crew to two pilots, the use of digital instruments, or the possibility of fuel transfer to control the center of gravity.

Between July 1974 and 2007, a total of 8433 Airbus A300s were manufactured. Undoubtedly, the Airbus A300 was fundamental to the consolidation of Airbus aircraft as a guarantor of safety and innovation.

The A320 family, the most successful project

As essential as the A300 model was, it is a fact that the A320 family is the one that has led the company to success.

Airbus’ origins were in the design of aircraft capable of standing up to the Boeing and Douglas models, so in the late 1970s, Airbus began working on a model that could compete against the Boeing 737-200 and Douglas DC-9.

European airlines made it happen

And to this end, in June 1977, a new joint European transport program, called JET, was created, comprising Airbus partners British Aerospace, Aerospatiale, Dornier and Fokker, but outside the European giant. This union gave birth to the A320 model, which was subsequently transferred to Airbus.

There was no stopping in the development of Airbus aircraft! Air France bought the model, and on 22 February, 1987, the A320 made its maiden flight.

Airbus did not stop there and worked on three other versions, A318, A319 and A321, of different sizes. Moreover, it has not stopped improving the project, incorporating new variants such as the A320NEO or the A321XLR.

Revolution in the control system: Fly by wire

Fly-by-wire piloting was pioneered by Airbus on its A320 model. Traditionally, pilot controls were connected by pulleys and cables to the control surfaces, but the Fly by wire that Airbus dared to use revolutionized the controls.

Thanks to this innovation, the controls are connected to a computer, which gives commands to the actuators located on the control surfaces.

Don’t miss it! In our pilot school we have an ALSIM Ultimate simulator, where students practice for their APS MCC Course. Here you can feel like in a real Airbus!

The world’s largest commercial aircraft

In addition to offering innovation, Airbus has also been responsible for giving us the A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

The dimensions of the A380 surpass everything we know: 73 meters long and two stories high, allowing a capacity for 853 passengers. Never seen before!

25 October, 2007 was the day the A380 made its first commercial flight, and it was for Singapore Airlines. And, despite its spectacular dimensions, the model ceased production in 2021. The reason? The manufacturing cost per unit was 400 million euros. That is why there are only 250 units of this model.

From an aeronautical point of view, the A380 project was a revolution for the sector, although economically it has been Airbus’ biggest failure.

Would you like to visit the A380 engine? It’s in Malaga! The aeronautical museum of Malaga has a Rolls Royce Trent 900 in its collection.

What will Airbus surprise us with next?

It has already surprised us with the presentation in 2021 of the ZEROe program, in which they intend to create the first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035.

How will this be possible? Hydrogen will be the fuel used, opening up a new world of possibilities in research, of which they hope to be able to make the news public by 2025.

But, apart from its sustainability projects, Airbus has a very positive outlook for the coming years.

At present, Airbus stands out for its diversification. Airbus Defence and Space is at the forefront in the manufacture of military transport aircraft, but it also ventures into fighters, such as the Eurofighter, and even satellites.

There is also Airbus Helicopters, a company responsible for the creation of large helicopter models, such as the H135 or the H225.

Airbus’ only limit is the sky

In its nearly 100 years of history as a manufacturer, it has proven itself to be a guarantor of safety, sustainability and development.

And the American competition has not affected it at any time. To learn more about this market battle, we will soon bring you a post about Boeing, and how the best-known aircraft manufacturer grew up.

We hope you enjoyed the post, and that it helped you learn more about Airbus aircraft.

If you want to continue learning about aeronautics, feel free to visit our aviation blog, where you have a lot of information just a click away.

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