Chuck Yeager Sues Airbus Over ‘Trademark’


At 96, Gen. Chuck Yeager is still ready for a fight and he’s taken on the second biggest aerospace company in the world. Yeager is suing Airbus for allegedly using his name and photo to promote a new helicopter design without paying him. The trademark infringement suit filed last week describes him as “one of the most, if not the most, famous pilots of all time.” It says Airbus’s 2017 web posting about its Racer high-speed helicopter, referencing his 1947 breaking of the sound barrier, essentially exploits the personal brand that has grown from that famous flight. 

According to Reuters, the offending passage was a quote from Guillaume Faury, the current Airbus CEO and the CEO at Airbus Helicopters at the time. “Seventy years ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier,” the posting quoted Faury as saying and that Airbus was now “trying to break the cost barrier. It cannot be ‘speed at any cost.’” Yeager is alleging the posting mislead readers into believing he endorsed the new helicopter. There is some history of friction between Yeager and Airbus. He had previously demanded $1 million for permission to use his name in Airbus press releases after the company released a video of him touring a factory. There was some discussion of the idea but it didn’t result in an agreement.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. People used the luster and image of Charles Lindbergh to sell aviation for decades and he never sued. Why? Because he knew that it promoted aviation sales and the industry. Just because some French dude quotes the history of an American military pilot in an American military plane (and does so in a positive way) is no cause to sue.

  2. Both Yeager and Aldrin are businesspeople looking to make a buck from anything they can sell, or in this case Yeager’s frivolous claim. They are past heroes. Hang it up already. Aldrin holds book signings where he charges people to get his autograph and won’t even say hi or shake hands. Agree with the two previous posters, particularly the gentleman mentioning his young wife. Both of them should act as gentleman ambassadors and inspirations for the current generation. This is deplorable and taints their image in the present.

  3. Let me get this straight. You’re all defending a huge, multinational corporation for pirating the image of a living person without his permission, while at the same time denigrating a man who is a decorated war hero, test pilot, first man to go faster than the speed of sound (with a broken rib, no less), who then continued to serve his country with distinction in two more wars? I do understand that Yeager has been described as a bit of a prick, but I believe he’s earned it.

  4. @James – No, he did not earn the right to be what you just said. I don’t care what “hero” he may be – which in both his and Aldrin’s case have long since faded – all they care about now is money. In my book, the highest quality one can have is humility. Both of these people are the antithesis of the same. He went faster than the speed of sound and Aldrin landed on the moon as a result of the thousands of engineers and scientists (of which, admittedly Aldrin was part of) whose brilliance designed the aircraft, spacecraft, and overcame all the technical challenges of both. Yet, nobody hails them as “heroes”. Yeager is 96 and Aldrin is 85. It is such a big deal if they don’t get a few pennies more in endorsements or royalties at this point, isn’t it. They are not ones to be looked up to anymore, IMO. They bring dishonor upon NASA, the US, and basic human decency, period.