Remember When: Airbus Flew All Its Current Aircraft In Formation

We couldn’t discuss Boeing’s epic 2016 7X7-series line-up without also covering Airbus’ equally epic 2019 A3XX formation flight. Taking place in May of 2019, the flight included one aircraft from each in-production family type of Airbus’ commercial aircraft line. This consisted of the A319neo, A330neo, A350, A380, a BelugaXL – and Airbus’ newest addition, the A220.

The commercial line-up formation flight was accompanied by Patrouille Acrobatique de France, also known as the Patrouille de France – the aerobatics demonstration unit of the French Air Force. Photo: Airbus

“For 50 years, we have pioneered many firsts through our passion and innovation, transforming the industry and helping to move society forward. Airbus is a story of incredible men and women, a story of great achievements in the past and, above all, in the future.” -Guillame Faury, CEO, Airbus via Business Traveller

Celebrating 50 years

Taking place in 2019, the special formation flight was organized to celebrate 50 years of Airbus as a company. It all began in 1969 at the Paris Air Show with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between French Transport Minister Jean Chamant and West German Economics Minister Karl Schiller to develop and produce the A300.

50 years of Making It Fly all stemmed from this. These signatures in 1969 led to the #A300 programme, the world’s first twin-engine wide body airliner. Ever since we’ve continued pioneering flight in the skies & beyond. https://t.co/vKs2YZncrj #Airbus50 #WeMakeItFly pic.twitter.com/pvKTh2MD54

— Airbus (@Airbus) May 29, 2019

As already mentioned, the flight included the following jets, all in their respective Airbus ‘house liveries:.’

A220-300
A319neo (representing the A320neo family)
A330-900neo
A350-1000
A380-800
BelugaXL (based on the A330 platform)

Sadly, the line-up excluded the A340, which had already ceased production eight years ago. Photo: Airbus

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The flight in video (and photos)

On the day of the flight, the aircraft took off, one after the other, and gathered in formation over the skies above Toulouse. The jets took a “flying V” formation, well-suited for the photos and video captured by Airbus.

Joining the commercial aircraft group at one point was the team known as ‘Patrouille de France,’ the French Air Force’s aerobatics demonstration team. The team of eight small jets at one point released colored smoke in the colors of the French flag.

It was reported that Airbus had planned a low pass over Toulouse Airport. However, this was canceled due to cloudy weather.

Patrouille de France releasing their colored smoke behind the formation of commercial aircraft. Photo: Airbus
By the time of the flight, Airbus had already canceled the A380 program, although the aircraft was technically still in production as there was still a backlog of orders. Photo: Airbus

A smaller event than originally planned

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of a highly successful commercial aircraft manufacturer should be a grand event. Looking at photos and video of the formation flights arranged, it appears to have been quite special.

However, according to Reuters, events were actually scaled-down. It was reported that a huge PR drive was replaced by a smaller celebration that saw souvenir key fobs and free ice cream handed out.

The reason for the toned-down event was due to an austerity drive by Airbus as well as an ongoing corruption investigation. This included a UK-based subsidiary of Airbus, GPT Special Project Management, facing seven years of investigations over bribery allegations to secure a military contract with the government of Saudi Arabia.

Other interesting facts

Here are some other bits of information you may not have known about Airbus’ 50th-anniversary formation flight:

In addition to the commercial aircraft formation flight, two other formation flights were arranged: One with Airbus’ helicopter line-up and another with Airbus Defence military aircraft. The Airbus Defence flight included the A330 MRTT Multi-Role Tanker Transport, A400M military airlifter, C295 tactical airlifter, and Eurofighter Typhoon swing-role fighter.
By the time of the formation flight on May 29th, 2019, Airbus had already announced the termination of its A380 program. Made public months earlier, in February, Airbus would cease to take orders of the A380 and finish its backlog of orders. At the time of publishing this article, the planemaker is preparing to deliver the very last A380 to Emirates.
Unlike Boeing’s static centenary line-up of 7X7 jets, which included out-of-production aircraft, Airbus only flew jets that were in production. Thus, the A300 and A340 were sadly absent from the formation.
The A220 at the time was a relatively recent addition to the family, with Airbus acquiring 50.1% of the program the year prior from Canadian manufacturer Bombardier. It would go on to buy out Bombardier’s share of the program, holding 75% alongside the Quebec government’s 25%.

Production of the A340 ended in 2011. Photo: Getty Images

Despite a few turbulent chapters involving corruption, and more recently, a global health crisis, Airbus has been resilient and already shows signs of recovering from the latter. Hopefully, the planemaker will offer equally amazing demonstrations and displays for its future milestone birthdays.

What is your favorite aircraft in the Airbus commercial family? Let us know in the comments!



Article Source simpleflying.com



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