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The Airbus A350 takes off on its maiden flight at Blagnac airport near Toulouse, southwestern France, Friday, June 14, 2013. The Airbus A350 has taken off on its maiden flight, setting the stage for intensifying competition with U.S. rival Boeing in the long-haul wide-body aircraft market.

Bob Edme, Associated Press - Ap

In this photo released by Airbus on Friday, June 14, 2013, the Airbus A350 takes off on its maiden flight at Blagnac airport near Toulouse, southwestern France, Friday, June 14, 2013. The Airbus A350 has taken off on its maiden flight, setting the stage for intensifying competition with U.S. rival Boeing in the long-haul wide-body aircraft market.

Sylvain Ramadier, Associated Press - Ap

First flight of Airbus A350 reopens wide-body race

  • June 14, 2013 - 7:31 AM

PARIS — The Airbus A350 has taken off on its maiden flight, setting the stage for intensifying competition with U.S. rival Boeing in the long-haul wide-body aircraft market.

Friday's flight from Toulouse is to last about four hours and marks a key step on the path to full certification. More than half of the A350 — Airbus' first all-new plane in eight years — is made up of lightweight carbon-fiber designed to save on jet fuel, which makes up half the cost of long-haul flights

Boeing, still recovering from problems with the lithium batteries on its 787 Dreamliner, currently dominates the long-haul market with the 787 and 777.

"The first flight is a very special moment in an aerospace company," Tom Enders, CEO of parent company EADS, said late Thursday.

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