The Airbus rival to the Boeing 777 just had its maiden flight

 
Rebecca Smith
Airbus is hoping it'll stake a claim in the lucrative mini-jet segment
Airbus is hoping it'll stake a claim in the lucrative mini-jet segment (Source: Airbus)

Airbus' new jewel in its crown and rival to Boeing's well-known 777, the Airbus A350-1000, took to the skies for its maiden flight today.

Europe's largest twin-engined passenger jet took off this morning at Blagnac in Toulouse France (at 10.42am local time just in case you were wondering). Equipped with specially developed Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 turbofans, Airbus is not messing around.

The plane is seven metres longer than A350s in service and able to carry 40 more people.

Read more: Airbus to bring operations tighter under its wing

To date 11 customers across five continents have placed overs for a total of 195 A350-1000s.

The aim of the game is for the 366 seater to break Boeing's hold in the lucrative mini-jet segment (typically involving large twin-engined jets that carry 350 people).

The aircraft involved in today's flight is one of three test planes facing 1,600 hours of intensive flight testing before the A350-1000 enters service in the second half of 2017.

Read more: Serious Fraud Office opens criminal investigation into Airbus

Last month, the European aerospace group reported a sharp fall of 21 per cent in quarterly earnings, pointing to supplier headaches and choppy helicopter sales as part of the problem. There have been troubles in the production of its popular long-range passenger jet, the A350.

In September, the firm announced a restructuring shake-up to merge divisions, simplify brands and get rid of the amount of bureaucracy.

Airbus' plane and engine divisions were brought under one umbrella with Fabrice Bregier taking on the role of chief operating officer.

The month before it was announced that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) had opened a criminal investigation into Airbus, probing allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption at the company. It's still ongoing and the SFO has said it can't comment on how long the investigation will take.

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