Airbus' 40-year commemorative flight display at Le Bourget Airport literally brought the Paris Air Show to a standstill today as attendees took time from their busy schedules to watch back-to-back demonstrations of the A300, A320, A340 and A380.
The afternoon presentation illustrated how Airbus has transformed the civil airline industry with its family of innovative single-aisle and widebody aircraft that have been developed and introduced into airline service during the company's four-decade history.
Airbus invited some of the company's pioneering leaders to witness today's flight presentation, which was followed by champagne and special cake served in the chalet of Airbus parent company EADS.
Amongst those watching the aerial display was Gunter Scherer, the flight test engineer for the A300â€™s historic takeoff on 28 October, 1972. He said the revolutionary use of composite materials on the A310/A300 underscored Airbus' visionary approach to airframe design. "Progress should never end - we still have room to improve and Airbus will be there," Scherer commented.
Pierre Baud, who piloted the A320 on its first flight in 1987, said the focus was on certifying the world's first civilian fly-by-wire airliner in the allotted one-year time period. "We were just looking to try to do the best job and to perform the certification in the one year that was given to us - and this already was a challenge," he explained. "At the time, we didn't anticipate the fantastic commercial success that the A320 would have later."
Bernard Ziegler, the former Senior Vice President of Flight and Support at Airbus, said one of his best memories is the historic globe-circling flight of an A340 during the 1993 Paris Air Show. Flying an A340-200 dubbed the "World Ranger," Ziegler and his crew departed Le Bourget for New Zealand, and after just five hours on the ground, continued around the world to land in Paris 48 hours and 22 minutes after setting out.
The A380's presentation today at Le Bourget was very special for one air show attendee: JÃ¼rgen Thomas, who is widely known as "the father" of the A380. He said Airbus' decision to involve numerous airlines in the A380's design and development process has paid off with the 21st century flagship aircraftâ€™s smooth entry into revenue service. "The decision to establish this very close cooperation with key airlines around the world brought to life what we see flying here today," he concluded.