50 Years of Airbus
A nearly two month celebration for the formation of the European manufacturer.
Fifty years before Brexit, the British government pulled out of a different international agreement in Europe. Europe was trying to create a commercial aircraft to compete with the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and the Lockheed Tristar (both three-engine jets). Nearly at the production phase, the venture learned that the Rolls Royce engine they had planned on using would not be available. Noting that the proposed plane would have to be re-designed, England pulled its support in 1969.
An historic agreement was arranged that same year at the Paris Air Show. West Germany picked up where the United Kingdom had fallen off, and Airbus was formed. The French Minister of Transport, Jean Chamant and the German Minister of Economic Affairs, Karl Schiller, signed an agreement at the 1969 Paris Air Show for the joint-development of the A300. This aircraft had the dubious distinction of being the first European twin-aisle, twin-engine jet for medium-haul air travel.
While the British government pulled out of the contract, the wings of the A300 were still made in England, across the Channel. Sir Arnold Hall, then managing director of Hawker Siddeley, decided that despite the British government’s withdrawal from the project, his company would stay in as a sub-contractor. The aircraft that Europe would create would be successful, and would celebrate the uniqueness of its continent.
The A300 would represent several countries in its construction. The French would make the cockpit, the control systems and the lower center section of the fuselage. British company Hawker Siddeley, made the wings while the Germans fabricated the forward and rear fuselage sections and the upper part of the center section. The Dutch made the moving parts of the wing such as flaps and spoilers. (The Spanish, who would become a full partner in 1971, would build the horizontal tailplane.)
“I wanted to use all the available talents and capacities to their utmost without worrying about the color of the flag or what language was spoken,” Airbus founder Roger Béteille said later.
Airbus is in the middle of its 50-day campaign to celebrate this monumental agreement.
“With a new story released each day, for 50 consecutive days, the campaign will highlight the people and ground-breaking innovations that have driven the company,” the company reports. “The campaign shines a light on many different aspects of the Airbus business, including commercial aircraft, helicopters, space and defence, in addition to programmes and initiatives.”
The campaign began on May 29, on the day of the anniversary, with a flyover over many Airbus production locations and industrial sites. Every commercial aircraft Airbus builds flew the circuit that afternoon.
Airbus’ campaign also looks forward to the future. In conjunction with its “Pioneering Progress” slogan, the campaign will explore how Airbus continues to shape the industry with “pioneering innovations that address some of society’s most critical issues… .” This will highlight digitizing aerospace design, urban air mobility options and pioneering electric flight to reduce emissions along with other possibilities.
Congratulations to Airbus on its 50-year anniversary. Aereos is proud to produce quality parts and create DER repairs for the A300 and for all Airbus aircraft. Atlas Aerospace and ACP have created many solutions over the past decades to clients such as British Airways, American Airlines and Lufthansa.
To learn more about the Airbus 50-year anniversary, check out their website here.
All photos owned and copyrighted by Airbus.