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DAY 37

DAY 37

THE MOMENT WE TOURED THE AMERICAS

Flying around the world to show customers the Airbus way

Our founders knew that if their ambitious vision to connect people around the globe and bring flying to the masses was to become reality, they would have to take the A300 across the Atlantic. 

But on the moment in 1973 when the A300 touched down on American soil for the first time, it wasn’t just carrying the engineers and spares needed for the trip. 

In what was to prove perhaps the most unusual sales expedition ever undertaken by an aircraft manufacturer, the plane was also loaded with crates of the very best champagne, bringing a taste of Europe to the thousands of guests invited to view the aircraft at stopovers.

Our founders knew that if their ambitious vision to connect people around the globe and bring flying to the masses was to become reality, they would have to take the A300 across the Atlantic. 

“The whole world thought we were mad because we arranged it without any support from abroad,” recalls Felix Kracht, who was the first production director on the A300. “But the trip went without a hitch and left a very good impression. It helped us a great deal.”  

This tour paved the way for Airbus’ unique approach to conducting demo tours. As Frank Chapman, an experimental test pilot within Airbus, comments, “for us, demo tours are always a very human experience, despite being all about introducing the aircraft”. 


“I’d like to wish a very happy Fourth of July to all our friends, colleagues, customers and suppliers in the States. Here’s to a significant moment, when we first touched down on American soil, and here’s to the next 50 years of success together.”

Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus

Airbus’ first-ever demonstration tour to Latin America occurred in 1973 with the company’s original A300B jetliner. This aircraft is shown in a fly-by of Rio de Janeiro.

The original A300B was met by large crowds as it made its debut during a multi-city visit to Latin America in 1973.

Frank Borman of Eastern Airlines signing for four A330B with Bernad Lathiere and Roger Béteille.

To this day, the Airbus way continues: the A350 XWB demo tour to the Americas in 2015 produced these fabulous aerial views of New York City.

Even to this day, Airbus always ensures that a full team of specialists involved in the launch of the aircraft, from crews and test pilots, to engineers and sales teams, are taken on-board to meet customers.

“Customers get to meet people from all part of the business and there is no doubt it pays dividends,” Chapman says. “Some customers want to speak to pilots about how the aircraft handles, others want to speak to the crew. And the impact on the public is undeniable.”

The six-week tour of South and North America in 1973 was a courageous move which helped Airbus break into the American market. By the end of the decade, Airbus had secured a significant deal with Frank Borman at Eastern Airlines, offering a plane which would enable millions of ordinary people to fly. 

In an industry which is, at its heart, about connecting people, the Airbus demo tour pioneered a way for people to connect with aircraft and the people who make them. 

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