Airbus have announced they will celebrate their fiftieth anniversary with a commemorative flypast over one of its major manufacturing plants and headquarters in Toulouse later today (29th May). It was on this day in 1969 that the company launched the A300B project. The flypast will consist of all of the manufacturers current products, consisting of the recently acquired A220, A320 family, A330NEO, A350XWB, the now discontinued A380 and the new super freighter BelugaXL, which is based on the A330 commercial jet.
The A300 first flew in 1972 and was the worlds first twin aisle, twin jet aircraft. The type entered service in 1974 with launch customer Air France, being used on the Paris-London route. Initially sales were limited, however once the type had proven itself sales increased towards the end of the decade. The most popular variant of the A300 was the A300-600, introduced into service with Saudi Arabian Airlines in 1983. The updated variant featured a two man flight deck, a greater range, updated engines and an updated flight deck.
One of the more unusual looking variants of the A300 series was the A300-600ST, more commonly referred to as the Beluga. This was developed by Airbus as a replacement for the Super Guppy freighters that were based off of the Boeing Stratocruiser of the 1940’s. Five of these remain in service as of 2019, however they are due to be phased out and replaced by the BelugaXL, based off the A330-200.
Many of the 561 A300’s are no longer in service although some live on as freighters. The design also lives on in the current A330, which can trace its roots back to the 1970’s. Initially, this aircraft was designated the A300B9 however by the time the aircraft was launched in 1992, the moniker had changed to the A330. The A330 project proved to be one of the most popular for the company, having sold 1452 units as of April 2019.