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A350 Airbus jet, Dreamliner rival, completes its maiden flight in Toulouse

The airplane reportedly consumes 25 percent less energy than earlier wide-bodied airplanes by using carbon composites.

Airbus test 350Enlarge
Airbus's next-generation A350 plane flies over Toulouse-Blagnac airport prior to land at the end of its first test flight on June 14, 2013. The A350 -- more than half of which is made of light composite materials that reduce fuel costs -- was crewed for its maiden flight by a British and a French test pilot assisted by a flight engineer and three other engineers at the back. (Eric Cabanis/AFP/Getty Images)

Airbus' A350 completed its maiden flight on Friday over the skies of Toulouse, France, where the plane is assembled.

The new fuel-efficient A350 is considered a direct competitor to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

The plane took off from Blagnac airstrip and flew for four hours before landing back in Toulouse.

"The airplane is behaving extremely well," said British chief test pilot Peter Chandler, speaking by radio during the flight from 13,000 feet, reported Reuters.

The airplane reportedly consumes 25 percent less energy than earlier wide-bodied airplanes through the use of carbon composites that make up half the body.

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"The A350 has the same innovations more or less as the Dreamliner, the 787," said Gerard Feldzer, a French aviation expert and former pilot.

"It is pretty much equivalent, the same amount or proportion of carbon for the lightness of the material, just as many electrical devices."

The A350 will not, however, be using the lithium-ion batteries that have helped ground the 787, after they caught fire during commercial flights.

Airbus has been cautious in unveiling the new airplane, having delayed its production for two years.

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The company will also not be showing the airplane at the 2013 Paris Air Show.

The A350 will hold between 250 and 400 passengers, with each plane costing between $254 and $332 million - more expensive than the Dreamliner.

Airbus has taken 613 orders on the new airplane - 890 Dreamliners have been ordered in comparison.

The company says it will begin delivering orders in 2014.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/130614/a350-airbus-jet-dreamliner-rival-completes-its-maiden-flight-toulouse