Half a century in the air: airbus celebrates its 50th anniversary. Birthday

Half a century in the air: airbus celebrates its 50th anniversary. Birthday

It was a milestone in the history of european industry: 50 years ago, airbus was born in germany and france. What was laughed at as a nice try in the USA developed into a successful model.

Today, airbus is the only significant manufacturer of large passenger aircraft apart from the U.S. Company boeing. And because its american rival was in a serious crisis after the crash of two jets and the flight ban for the 737 max, airbus was able to become the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer in its anniversary year of all years.

It all started back in 1965, when the german companies messerschmitt, bolkow, dornier-werke, hamburger flugzeugbau and vereinigte flugtechnische werke founded the airbus joint venture to build a competitor to the u.S. Manufacturers boeing and mcdonnell douglas.

Even the name airbus caused ridicule among some back then. The german model was in fact the bus: simultaneous boarding and disembarking, low fares, fast schedules. However, virtually nothing of these ideas was later implemented – rebuilding the airport and infrastructure in this way cost billions.

And only the merger with the french aerospatiale is considered the founding date of airbus. At the 29. In may 1969, the german minister of economics, karl schiller, and the french minister of transport, jean chamant, signed the agreement, which was entirely in the spirit of european unification. The british had left shortly before.

Later, the spanish joined the project. The work could now begin. The main base was the southern french city of toulouse. The german felix kracht became the first production director. In 1979, the weekly newspaper "die zeit" described him as follows: "like a native frenchman, the yellow gauloise cigarette doesn’t fall out of the corner of his mouth when he speaks."At the airbus plant in toulouse, it was said, it was not about the passport, but about the ability to fly.

The A300 – a wide-body aircraft for long and medium-haul routes – was being tinkered with there. Today, it is regarded as a milestone in the internationalization of aircraft construction – at the time, people were less convinced of its merits. The magazine "der spiegel" called the aircraft a "thick-bodied provincial jet".

Initially, the passenger aircraft with 250 to 300 seats actually found few takers – even though its competitor boeing had nothing comparable to offer in this segment at the time. CSU politician franz josef straub, who was chairman of the airbus supervisory board from 1970, promoted the aircraft on his travels. But the breakthrough came only when a US airline, of all companies, placed a rough order for the aircraft.

In 1979, the british joined airbus after all – today, airbus has bundled almost all its aircraft construction in the uk. Over the decades, airbus once again set technical accents that, although initially controversial, became established on the market. This also includes the "fly-by-wire" technology for passenger aircraft. This electronic flight control system is now standard in modern cockpits.

In 2000, germany, france and spain merged the bulk of their civil and military aerospace businesses, creating europe’s largest aerospace and defence group. The new company hieb aeronautic defense and space company – EADS for short. EADS never became a strong brand, however, and was eventually radically reorganized and named after its most important subsidiary: airbus.

Airbus has its second-largest factory in the world in germany. More than 13 companies work in hamburg-finkenwerder.000 employees involved in the construction of commercial aircraft. This wednesday, airbus plans to celebrate its birth with its employees there. In finkenwerder, for example, parts of the fuselage of the giant A380 jet are produced and the cabin is fitted out. More than half of all A320 family aircraft produced each year come from hamburg. In total, airbus pays more than 46 million euros in germany.000 employees at 27 locations one of the largest employers in the world.

Even though the history of the airbus founding companies goes back much further, the group itself is not even half as old as its rival boeing, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. But shortly after the turn of the millennium, airbus for the first time collected more orders than the u.S. Company. And in 2018, with 800 commercial jets delivered, the europeans jolted boeing to just six aircraft.

The least significant contribution to this rise came from the giant A380 aircraft. In the case of the double-decker aircraft that replaced boeing’s jumbo as the world’s largest passenger jet at the beginning of the millennium, airbus had made a miscalculation: due to a lack of new orders, the company’s top management announced in february that production would end in 2021.

The A320 series of medium-haul jets built since the 1980s has become a real bestseller. Its new edition a320neo with coarser, more fuel-efficient engines even chased the boeing 737 away from dominance in the top-selling aircraft segment – production is booked up for years to come. Boeing followed suit with a modernization of its model – but the step turned into a disaster. Two planes crashed, 346 people died, cockpit software is believed to be partly responsible. Since mid-march, a worldwide flight ban has been in effect, deliveries have been halted, and production has been scaled back.

But the european rival is not gloating. "I’m not someone who says: this can’t happen to us," said long-serving airbus boss tom enders, shortly before he handed over the reins of the group to frenchman guillaume faury in april. Enders also left his successor with a lot of work to do: corruption investigations in great britain and france have recently put the company under heavy pressure.

Ultimately, airbus could deliver more aircraft than boeing for the first time in 2019. It was a victory with an unpleasant aftertaste. But the europeans had achieved their goal of becoming world leaders in the aircraft business, despite the A380 and the billions spent on the A400M military transport.

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