May 29: It’s 40 years since the Franco-German agreement was signed that launched Airbus’ first ever aircraft programme, the A300. On May 29, at the 1969 Paris Air Show the French Minister of Transport, Jean Chamant and the German Minister of Economic Affairs, Karl Schiller, agreed the joint development of the A300, a twin-aisle twin-engine jet for medium-haul air travel.
Airbus built 822 A300/A310 Family aircraft and delivered them to 80 customers, against an original forecast of just 300. Of those 620 aircraft are still in operation. It gained the nickname ‘profit machine’ within the company and enabled Airbus Industrie to be created on December 18, 1970, gathering together the European industrial partners of the programme SNIAS (Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale) Deutsche Airbus, Hawker-Siddeley and VFW-Fokker.
Tom Enders, today’s Airbus President and CEO, remarked: “40 years ago the commercial jet aircraft market was entirely dominated by the US industry. Giving the go-ahead for the A300 was a bold strategic decision.”
To date Airbus has delivered more than 5,600 aircraft to approximately 400 customers and operators worldwide with 3,500 aircraft on order.