The best part of Paris for me…

I’ve finally had a chance to catch my breath after the whirlwind that was the Paris Air Show and a week of playing catch-up on IFE&C news after the show (have you checked out Flight Global’s new IFE&C channel yet?).

One of the most memorable experiences for me in Paris was the luncheon held by Airbus to commemorate the 40-year anniversary of its A300B, the first twin-engined widebody jet.

I had the opportunity to meet some of the original A300B test pilots, as well as the airframer’s modern-day wizzes. A380 test pilot Peter Chandler was kind enough to give me a personal tour of the A380 testbed (I’ll post a video blog about this in the future).

It is probably a profound understatement to say that the last month has been very difficult for Airbus, which has seen two of its widebody aircraft involved in fatal crashes. The Air France A330 that disappeared over the South Atlantic on 1 June has highlighted the importance of robust connectivity off an aircraft (we’ll have more on this later).

But for a very brief time in Paris, the company had a little respit from the storm as it honoured its past and looked to the future.

Below is the article I wrote for the Flight Show Daily, and then scroll down for pictures of Peter and me in the A380 testbed.

Airbus – past, present and future

Airbus honoured its past yesterday when it brought together members of the original A300B flight test team with key figures behind the A380 programme to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the A300B, the world’s first twin-engined widebody jet.

Airbus personalities like A300B test pilots Bernard Ziegler and Gunter Scherer joined the father of the A380, Juergen Thomas, and the inventor of the Airbus brand design, Knut Marsen, during a special VIP luncheon at the Airbus press chalet.

The A300B, launched on 29 May 1969 by the French and German governments, “was the beginning of a long adventure for European civil aviation”, says Airbus.


Speaking at a cake-cutting ceremony, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders told the A300B pilots that the company “would not be here today” without their work. He said he hopes the pilots “can see that Airbus has not lost its pioneering spirit”, and is pushing forward with new programmes.

The next twin-engined widebody to emerge from Airbus will be the A350 XWB, which is expected to enter service in 2013. “I can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t stay on the schedule,” says Airbus test pilot Peter Chandler.

He points out that Airbus is taking most of the cockpit developments of the A380 and putting them into the A350 “plus a few new things as well”.

At the same time, new technology that finds itself on the A350 – such as the runway overrun protection system and flight management system updates – will “feed back into the A380″.




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13 Responses to The best part of Paris for me…

  1. RobH June 30, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Let’s see…

    A beautiful, romantic girly-girl in Paris, and her favorite part is chatting up airplane nerds? Hmmmm…

    Sweetie, I’m surprised you made it out of Painter’s Square alive.

    [Hey, everybody thinking this, I'm just typing it]

  2. Mary Kirby June 30, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    Well I won’t tell you about my second favourite experience in Paris…it’s far too explicit :)

  3. Yossarian June 30, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    If you can’t be good, be careful.

  4. Ludwig von Hapsburg XII "Stinky" June 30, 2009 at 4:51 pm #

    Speaking of airline nerds…how are you, Rob?

    Lemme guess, RWG! Lemme guess! You dressed up like a big American flag, walking about Paris with a huge boombox on your shoulder playing the theme song to “The Pink Panther.”

    Did you tell anyone you know Jerry Lewis. The Frogs take to him like the Germans love David Hassellhoff.


  5. RobH June 30, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Ha ha, guessed wrong, Smelly the 12th.

    4 German Air Force friends from Cochem (yup, along the Mosel), their honeys and me and my high-maintenance Polish model girlfriend (think: brunette Ginger). Walked out of Sacre Coeur, around the corner and she got mauled by artists wanting to paint her. Took me a solid hour to get her out of there.

    By the way, Smelly, my girlfriend shaved. You’ll have to trust me on this, but believe me, it’s sublime.

    PS – Turn off the TV and get out more.

  6. Mary Kirby June 30, 2009 at 5:50 pm #

    RobH, your girlfriend sounds cool!

  7. RobH June 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    Ex-girlfriend, The kind that brings out the best and worst in a guy, but not the girl you want to raise kids with. I’m so much happier with the girl I married instead (think: blonde Mary Anne).

  8. Mary Kirby June 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    Most men pick Mary Anne in the end. Sounds like you have a good tale or two, though.

  9. Dave June 30, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

    So is the Airbus guy a midget too?

    Anyways, the best thing about Paris is their food (and wine). Say what you will about the French, for Caucasians they are damn fine cooks.

  10. sir peter levenforenstinson July 1, 2009 at 9:49 am #


    I am pretty sure most of us really don’t give a s*it. Espically when you now say it’s your ex. You turn the corner and got mauled by artists? You should of told us they were doing charactertures. Of course they wanted to paint her, for 10 Euros they would draw a monkey throwing poo on a wall.

    Stinky needs to turn off the TV and get out more?!! I think your TV is only Tuned to Nick at Night, The Gilligan’s Island Channel.

    Sounds like you would be better off being on Gilligan’s island or a diffrent one yelling Da Plane Da Plane.


  11. Ludwig von Hapsburg XII "Stinky" July 1, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Having a bad day, Sir Peter? Sounds like someone needs a nappy-poo.

    Don’t sweat RobH. Clearly, he is an avid “Gilligan’s Island” fan and most likely has a crush on Ginger and Mary-Ann. Of course, we can all speculate if he secretly obsesses about Mrs. Thurston Howell III.

    You know, my cousin “dated” a Polish girl. Turns out, she was a reformed prostitute who became a mail-order bride. I hear that’s pretty big over there, but if RobH finds love with a Filipino mail-order bride, I won’t cancel the fruit basket I am sending him.

    Have to go. There’s a killer episode of the Hart to Hart coming on.


  12. Dave July 1, 2009 at 6:09 pm #

    Oh, so that’s what you guys were talking about…

    “Gilligan’s Island”- no wonder I didn’t clue in, it was well, well before my time…
    I’ve can honestly say I have never seen an episode.

    I once dated a Russian chick, I must say I was traumatized… and I have thankfully repressed most of those horrific memories.

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