27 MAY 2013
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Airbus has expressed growing optimism about the schedule for the keenly-awaited maiden flight of its A350, amid speculation that its first new jet in almost a decade could debut before next month's Paris air show (starts Monday 17 June).
Scooping headlines at the world's largest aerospace event would give a boost to the A350, which went through several changes in design but for the time being seems relatively immune from problems which have plagued Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
Airbus parent EADS described the A350 project as "challenging", but stuck to a summer target date for the first flight of Europe's response to the 787.
"You will not hear me today giving any new comment on any date; we are preparing the aircraft, we are doing ground tests, we are continuing structural tests", Harald Wilhelm, the Finance Director of both Airbus and parent EADS, told reporters.
"The important thing is that it is a 'mature' first flight and this will happen in the summer I think. On this we are more and more confident".
If the first flight takes place before 17 June a non-landing Paris visit seems possible but the authorities would impose a very strict overfly programme not conducive to showing the aircraft at its best. www.airbus.com www.paris-air-show.com
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