June 14 - The Airbus A350 successfully completed a four-hour maiden flight, stepping up the battle with arch-rival Boeing for sales of a new generation of sleek, lightweight passenger aircraft. Rough cut only (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION Europe's newest passenger plane, the Airbus A350, landed successfully after completing a four-hour maiden test flight on Friday (June 14). The next-generation passenger plane touched down back in Toulouse in southwestern France at 1405 local time (1205 GMT), after a fly-past over the planemaker's Toulouse production site. The flight, with two former fighter pilots at the controls, lasted about four hours and capped eight years of development estimated to have cost $15 billion. French co-pilot Guy Magrin took the controls for the take-off at 10:01 local time (0801 GMT), giving the plane air under its wings for the first time in front of a podium of airline chiefs who have ordered 613 aircraft. It was watched by more than 10,000 Airbus staff and spectators. The long-awaited flight was a milestone for Airbus as it battles against Boeing's 787 Dreamliner for sales of a generation of lightweight jets made from carbon-plastic material designed to save fuel and open up new long-distance routes. Boeing was quickest off the mark with the revolutionary carbon-composite technology and its Dreamliner has outsold the A350 with sales standing at 833 aircraft for 57 customers. Airbus hopes to catch up and also mount a challenge to the U.S. manufacturer's larger, metallic 777, using a later version of the A350. Competition for wide-bodied jets is expected to dominate the Paris Airshow, which begins on Monday (June 17).