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Pioneering progress: Airbus at 50

Airbus is now 50. It built its present success on innovation. To continue its path as Europe’s leading aerospace company, it is keeping its eye firmly on the future: Hybrid-electric aircraft, new urban air mobility solutions and digitalisation are central pillars.

A 50-year European success story

On 29 May 2019, Airbus celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation. On this day in 1969, German Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Karl Schiller and French Minister of Transport Jean Chamant signed the treaty to establish Airbus. It was a clear commitment to European integration. The political foresight and cross-border cooperation altered the global aerospace industry. Out of many separate aerospace companies in Europe, one global market leader emerged.

This was reflected in strategic decisions on size and range of Airbus’s first product: the A300. The world's first twin-engine widebody airliner immediately created a decisive advantage over prospective competitors and established Airbus as a pioneer in innovation.

Today, an Airbus aircraft takes off or lands every second somewhere around the world. Half of all helicopters in operation across the globe have been produced by Airbus Helicopters. And, Airbus Defence and Space maintains Europe’s independent access to space and helps ensure the continent’s security.

Europe is the true champion in aerospace and Airbus is at its heart. The work-sharing arrangements across different countries and the innovative industrial set-up are highlighting the European character. Thanks to the European integration, Airbus improved its competitiveness and continues to show what Europe can achieve when countries come together.

The leading edge of innovation

Now, the pace of innovation is accelerating. Digitalisation is fundamentally changing the aerospace industry, both its products and the way it produces aircraft. The key drivers are automation, Big Data, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence.

Airbus is a pioneer in the development of electric and hybrid aircraft. The long-term objective: zero-emission flight. To achieve this goal, Airbus develops projects such as the eFan-X, a hybrid-electric aircraft model, as well as alternative fuels.

The fully electric CityAirbus has the potential to transform urban air mobility concepts. With virtually emission-free journeys over short distances, the vertical take-off and landing aircraft will ease congestion in metropolitan areas. The learnings in electric flight can be applied to larger aircraft.

Winning the future

We strongly believe Europe should remain at the forefront of aerospace technology, a sector that is crucial for the continent’s competitiveness, employment, security and strategic autonomy. This will require significant commitments by industry and governments alike. Airbus invests 10% of its revenues in research and technology while European programmes such as CleanSky are catalysts for value-adding innovations that make flying cleaner, quieter and safer. From this position of strength, Europe should significantly increase its investment in innovation and technology to shape the future of this strategic sector – just as the visionaries of 1969 intended.

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