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A350 First Flight Friday

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It's been a few years since there was a first flight of a clean sheet airliner design but it seems likely there will be two by the end of the month. Airbus announced the first flight of its A350 will be June 14 at 10 a.m. in Toulouse, France. Assuming that goes well, the A350 will become the main attraction at the Paris Air Show, which starts June 17. The company rolled out the prototype of the XWB (extra wide body) aircraft a month ago with a full paint job and the aircraft has been undergoing ground tests. The A350 is a direct challenge to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the highly successful Boeing 777, a new model of which will be on display at Paris. Meanwhile, in Canada, Bombardier is planning to fly its new CSeries single-aisle airliner by the end of the month.

Bombardier officials said earlier this month they would not make it to Paris with the CSeries but have said it will fly in Montreal before the end of the month. The CSeries is being touted as an efficient alternative to the Boeing 737 and A320, not to mention smallish airliners being developed in Japan, China and Russia. The CSeries will use geared turbofan engines from Pratt and Whitney that are projected to cut fuel costs by up to 20 percent and be noticeably quieter than other jet engines. Bombardier has potential orders for up to 400 aircraft and about 145 are firm.

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