Airbus flag waving from the flight deck of the A350. Photo by Chris Sloan.
An excerpt from Chris Sloan’s story on Airchive.com:
The first half of 2013 and has certainly been a busy year in the annals of commercial aviation. In January the worldwide fleet of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was grounded; not taking to the skies again until May. On Valentine’s Day, American Airlines and USAirways announced a blockbuster merger creating the world’s largest airline and effectively ending the legacy airlines consolidation game in the United States. In early March, Bombardier rolled-out the CSeries CS100, the first in a line of airliners that could not only be a game changing regional jet, but possibly challenge the Airbus A320 / Boeing 737 duopoly.
These headlines alone would make any year exceptional, but only midway through the year another major event loomed large. On June 14th Airbus embarked on flying for the first time what’s likely the last “totally clean sheet” large airliner for the rest of this decade – the A350 XWB. Even with roughly 2 days notice, there was absolutely no way I was going to miss this historic event. I, along with many had suspected June 13th or 14th would be “D-Day” for the A350 so I had my bags packed and reservations on hold just in case.
As we would learn later, Airbus had this week as a target for the last 9 months. Much has been already written about the A350 over the last 7 years and its maiden flight, I want this piece to take you with me on what it was like moment by moment to be there and witness aviation history. First, let’s go back to the future for a little A350 XWB refresher.