The start of something big

Fifty years ago the Airbus adventure started with the A300B, an innovative response to airlines’ requirements. On October 28, 1972 the world’s first wide-body twin-engined commercial aircraft, the A300B1 development aircraft, MSN 1, bearing the registration F-WUAB, performed its maiden flight in Toulouse, taking the first steps towards changing the face of modern aviation.

The A300B and its siblings, the A300-600 and the A310, despite entering the market during a difficult period for the industry, went on to become market leaders in short to medium haul passenger operations thanks to their reputation for economy and reliability which spread among airlines, and the A300-600 would prove to be one of the best selling freighter aircraft ever. With more than 820 aircraft sold, the A300/A310 Family ultimately included variants, new build and converted freighters, combis, air tankers, military and VIP transport, and Airbus’ fleet of five A300-600ST Belugas.

The constant design evolution across the family, along with the integration of new technology and materials, earned it a place in aviation history with many industry “firsts”: the first two-man forward facing cockpit for a twin-aisle, the first application of composites on secondary, then primary structures, the first use of electrical signaling for secondary controls and the introduction of both drag-reducing wingtip devices and center of gravity control.

Such innovation ensured the A300/A310 Family maintained levels of economic and operational performance that continued to attract new customers and generate airline profits well into the 21st century.

Today, more than 250 A300/A310 aircraft are in operation with 37 operators. 75% of the fleet are freighters and is the third most operated freighter type worldwide. More than 60% are operated by 4 major customers which project operating their fleets at least until 2030. The Airbus A300/A310 Programme team ensures maximum customer satisfaction is maintained throughout the current projected life cycle of the A300/A310 Family.


The twin-engine Airbus A300B was designed to be smaller, lighter and more economical to operate than its three-engine competitors.

The First Flight Crew

  • Max Fischl: Captain, Test Pilot (1922-2006) Born in Paris he began his career as a greaser in the Merchant Navy. He was a licensed fighter pilot and graduate of the EPNER (Ecole du Personnel Navigant d’Essais et de Réception). He went to Britain and later Canada during the Second World War .On his return he joined the SEFA (Service d'Exploitation de Formation Aéronautique) aeronautical training school as a pilot-instructor, while in parallel preparing for his test pilot's license. His skills took him initially to Hurel-Dubois, then to SNCASO, which would become part of Aerospatiale. He would go on to test legendary aircraft such as Trident, the Vautour, the Caravelle… before being appointed chief test pilot at Airbus Industrie. During his career, Max Fischl totaled nearly 10,000 flight hours, including 6,500 in test flights. In 1974, Max Fischl became director of Aéroformation, created by Jean Pinet, and in 1984, founded Aeroconseil. He was appointed to the rank of officer and decorated with the National Order of Merit by André Turcat. 
  • Bernard Ziegler: First Officer, Test Pilot (1933-2021) Born in Boulogne sur Seine, after university Bernard Ziegler trained as a fighter pilot, receiving the brevet d’appontage, meaning he was qualified to land on aircraft carriers. He started his career flying fighters with the French Air Force. During the early 1960s he studied aeronautical engineering at ENSA (l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique), which is now ISAE-SUPAERO. He then attended prestigious flight test pilot school EPNER, before taking up a career as a military test pilot. Bernard joined Airbus in 1972 and was given the task of setting up a new flight test division. As chief engineer, a position he held from 1985 until his retirement in 1997, he proved to be a prolific innovator. The introduction of digital fly-by-wire for the first time on a commercial aircraft gave him the most pride. Its inclusion on the A320 in 1988 really was the high point of his career. During his lifetime he received France’s highest distinction, the Légion d’Honneur and the Ordre national du Mérite.


  • Günter Scherer: Flight Test Engineer (1933-2018)A native of Duisburg, Germany, Günter Scherer devoted his life to aviation and flight testing. After graduating from RWTH Aachen with a degree in engineering he started his career in 1961 at what was  at the time VFW in Bremen. In 1962, Günter Scherer was called onto the joint Franco-German military transport aircraft programme Transall. As such, he was one of the very first German flight test members to graduate from the French flight test school EPNER. A committed European, who believed in European cooperation as key for a successful aerospace industry in Europe, Günter Scherer joined the SNIAS French Aerospace Company, where he participated in the preliminary work for the Airbus aircraft flight tests. In 1977, this allowed to establish the first integrated multinational flight test team, continuing the European integration which he strongly believed in. He was instrumental in the development and flight testing of the A300, A310 and subsequently the first Fly by Wire controlled A320. He retired in February 1997.
  • Pierre Caneill: Flight Test Engineer (1924-2018) A 1948 ISAE graduate, he qualified as an EPNER flight test engineer in 1952. He joined Air Fouga and was the flight engineer for the Fouga Magister CM 170 on its first flight on July 7, 1954  Joining the Sud-Aviation flight test team in 1967, he participated in the tests of Concorde and the Caravelle 12 in 1972. He then joined the Airbus team and was on the crew of the first flight of the A300 on October 28, 1972. At the end of his career as a flight test engineer, he left the world of industry to take up teaching and worked as a professor of flight dynamics at ISAE Supaéro from 1977 to 1987 He also worked in tandem with Gilbert Klopstein to develop the first "Head-up displays" at Supaéro in the 1970’s.
  • Romeo Zinzoni: Flight Test Engineer / Cockpit Mechanic (1923-2004) Born on May 30 1923 in Rouvrois sur Meuse, France, Romeo Zinzoni was an EPNER alumni of the class of 1950. In December of 1959 he received the Médaille aéronautique, awarded for outstanding accomplishments related to the field of aeronautics, for his work at the Marignane CEV (Centre d’Essais en Vol).  Romeo Zinzoni enjoyed a long and distinguished career from the flight testing campaigns ranging from the Sud-Aviation SE210 Caravelle in the late 1950’s and the first flight of the Breguet Br 1150 Atlantic in Toulouse, on October 21, 1961. He was also on the flight crew of the entry into service flight of the Atlantic on September 10, 1964. He subsequently went on to extensively fly on the Concorde and the A300 flight testing campaigns of the early 70s.

Discover more Airbus history


The full aircraft history

1968 to today


Airbus history

Through the decades

Commercial Aircraft History 1970-1972

First order first flight


Champagne... and drought (1973-1977)

Champagne…and drought