Airbus' new fuel-efficient A350 passenger plane took its maiden flight earlier today as the company looks to take on its aerospace rival Boeing. The high-tech composite jet took off from Toulouse–Blagnac airport for a four-hour flight, marking the company's first test flight since the launch of its A380 four-engine double-decker airliner in 2005.
The European company hopes its new twin-engine jetliner — which is crafted from composite structures with titanium, advanced aluminum alloys, and carbon fiber for greater fuel efficiency — can help it challenge Boeing for a greater share of the thriving long-haul market. The A350 will compete with Boeing's troubled 787 Dreamliner, which suffered battery issues following its launch. Airbus will head to the Paris Air Show next week to seek early A350 orders, after which it will conduct a 12-month flight test campaign before it enters service in the second half of 2014.