Airbus Thinks Big As It Offers New Passenger Jet

By John S. McClenahen The first passenger flight is more than five years away. And rival Boeing Co. is still to be heard from. But Airbus Industrie, the European aerospace sales and marketing consortium, as of today is ready to sign up airline customers for its A3XX, a 555-seat, double deck passenger jet. The very large jetliner, bigger than any of the Boeing 747s now flying, is slated to be assembled at Airbus partner Aerospatiale-Matra SA's Toulouse, France, facility. Interior furnishing and customization is to be done by another Airbus partner, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, in Hamburg. Both Aerospatiale-Matra and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace will also produce fuselage sections for the A3XX. Britain's BAE Systems PLC, a third Airbus partner, will produce the plane's wings. And Spain's Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (CASA) is scheduled to produce the horizontal stabilizer and other parts. Eight airlines -- including Air France, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, have expressed an interest in buying the A3XX. "We shall now proceed to firm up the announced expressions of interest, and we have every confidence that the . . . launch will be achieved at the turn of the year," says Noel Forgeard, Airbus' CEO. Not so incidentally, production of the A3XX will be done by a restructured Airbus Industrie. To be called the Airbus Integrated Co., it will bring together the four current partners in a firm similar to a U.S. corporation.

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