1 JUNE 2009
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AIRBUS has celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Franco-German agreement to launch the A300. On 29 May 1969, the French Minister of Transport, Jean Chamant, and the German Minister of Economic Affairs, Karl Schiller, signed an agreement for the joint-development of the aircraft, a first European twin-aisle twin-engine jet for medium haul air travel. This historic event took place during the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. In October 1972, the A300 made its maiden flight and the first production model, the A300B2 entered service in 1974. Initially the success of the consortium was poor but by 1979 there were 81 aircraft in service. It was the announcement of the narrow-bodied A320 in 1981 that guaranteed the status of Airbus as a major player in the aircraft market – the aircraft had over 400 orders before it first flew, compared to 15 for the A300 in 1972. That figure now stands at over 5,600 aircraft to some 400 customers with a healthy backlog of around 3,500 units for delivery over the coming years. www.airbus.com
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