Airbus celebrated its 50th anniversary with a formation flight of its demonstrators, joined by the Patrouille de France. When European aerospace companies consolidated 49 years ago to build the A300 mid-size airliner, few could have predicted that the corporation would today make up half the duopoly (with Boeing) that dominates commercial aviation. And Airbus staged its massive air formation to proclaim to all—especially to the citizens of France, where the demonstration flight took place—that its future looks bright.
The company’s newest and smallest jet, the A220 leads the pack; the program was, until 2017, the Bombardier C-Series. It’s followed by an A319neo, the smaller of the ubiquitous A320 models. A long-hauler and Airbus’s most recent clean-sheet design, the A350-1000, is next (top); it is joined by an A330neo, a re-engined version of the mid-range A330. In the final row fly the A380 (top) the largest passenger airplane ever made; the A330 “Beluga,” built to haul parts around the world; and between them, the Patrouille de France aerobatic team in (non-Airbus) Alpha Jets.