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Since the 1970s, Airbus has become one of the major aircraft manufacturers in the world. The company is a trusted name when it comes to narrowbody and widebody commercial aircraft. It also delivers more airplanes in a year than other companies. This explains why you’ll notice Airbus aircraft in service for many airline companies around the world. That said, type rating for Airbus planes is also a popular course in every top pilot school here in the Philippines and abroad.

While you may be familiar with Airbus as an aerospace manufacturing company, there are many interesting pieces of information you may not know about the successful company and its aircraft. With that, here are six fun facts that you may not know about Airbus.

Airbus Began as a Consortium of the European Aerospace Industry

Airbus was founded to enter the competitive aerospace industry, which was then dominated by American manufacturers like the Boeing Company, Lockheed Corporation, and McDonnell Douglas. The company was formed with several European aerospace corporations in 1970. It developed its first aircraft, the A300 to compete with popular jets of that time.

The A300 was truly a collaborative effort and brought out the best in European aerospace corporations. France led the construction of the cockpit and central fuselage, while West Germany was responsible for other fuselage sections. The aircraft’s wings were manufactured in the UK, the flaps and spoilers were sourced in Holland, and the tailplane came from Spain. This sense of cooperation among different European companies continues to this day.

Airbus Uses a Proprietary Numbering System

When it comes to identifying its aircraft, Airbus uses a proprietary numbering system different from other aerospace manufacturers. The company also developed the system to make it easier to distinguish aircraft models from each other, their parts, and their engines.

Each airplane is given an alphanumeric string to determine the family of the Airbus it belongs to. It’s then followed by a dash and a three-number code, with the fifth digit representing improvements made to the preceding series. For example, the A310-300 has 20% extra range compared to its A310-100 predecessor. The sixth digit in the aircraft code determines its engine manufacturer, while the seventh digit signifies the engine variant used on the aircraft. This kind of unique numbering system also makes Airbus planes easy to recognize by different organizations.

Every Airbus Cockpit Layout Is Similar to Each Other

Many manufacturers have different strategies when marketing their aircraft. Airbus, for example, uses the commonality among its aircraft as a unique selling point. Since Airbus introduced the A320, the company has used almost identical cockpit layouts across their narrowbody and widebody aircraft cockpits. The design certainly became advantageous for the company’s customers and pilots.

It allows pilots to easily operate aircraft within the same family. They won’t have to acquire new training for it too. Also, the commonality among Airbus cockpits makes cross-training crews simpler. Pilots can quickly fly new aircraft types and switch between them, which provides airline companies with greater fleet flexibility.

Airbus First Introduced the Fly-By-Wire Commercial Airplane

Through the decades, many aerospace manufacturers have made improvements in commercial jets such as their efficiency, technology, and passenger comfort. But one of the most significant advances was the transition to fly-by-wire technology, which Airbus first introduced. It replaced the manual hydraulic controls and gave way to electronic controls.

Essentially, fly-by-wire lets pilots use computer-controlled actions to send corresponding electrical signals to the flight control surface movements. Using such a system helps the aircraft become more fuel efficient because the technology is lighter than the bulkier mechanical controls. It also reduced the workload for pilots due to the less complex system. Since the launch of the fly-by-wire technology on the A320 in 1987, Airbus has used it on all its aircraft.

Airbus Built the Largest Commercial Plane

Most notably, Airbus manufactured the largest commercial aircraft known as the A380. It’s 72.7 meters long, weighs 560 tons, and has a maximum take-off weight of 1,235 kilopounds. The aircraft also has two decks and can offer a three-class capacity of 544. In an all-economy layout, the massive plane can seat 868 passengers.

While its size made the A380 an impressive engineering marvel, the aircraft didn’t get the commercial success Airbus was hoping for. Many airlines shifted to using smaller and more efficient aircraft, even for long-haul journeys. Nevertheless, the launch of the A380 is an important milestone for aviation.

The Company Also Develops Military Aircraft and Helicopters

While you may know Airbus for its fleet of commercial aircraft, the company also manufactures military jets and helicopters. The company has products for civilian and military use in 150 countries, making Airbus the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world. When it comes to its military contributions, Airbus has global contracts with militaries—including the US—to supply jets and helicopters. The company is also a partner in the Eurofighter military jet development.

Indeed, the Airbus company is one of the major aircraft manufacturers in the world today. You may not know it, but it also had its fair share of challenges as a company and notable contributions to the aerospace industry. However, its reputation as one of the most reliable and innovative aircraft manufacturers today has cemented its name in aviation history. Hopefully, these fun facts can help you gain fresh insights into Airbus’s success and its aircraft.