Airbus aircraft, in stark contrast to some Boeing airliners, are largely manufactured in Europe. The company’s origin as a consortium of European aerospace companies no doubt is a contributing factor; yet, the company is not entirely immune to outsourcing. In fact, Airbus opened a plant in China, one of the fastest-growing consumers of air travel, in 2009.
The name “Airbus”, interestingly enough, was an aviation industry term that was made popular in the 1960s and used to describe large commercial aircraft.
Airbus, founded in 1970 as Airbus Industrie, consisted of a consortium of European aerospace firms. The relationship between the companies stemmed from a 1967 government initiative between the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The consortium’s goal was to compete with American aerospace moguls Lockheed, McDonnell Douglas, and Boeing. Members included Aérospatiale (Aérospatiale-Matra), Deutsche Airbus (DaimlerChrysler Aerospace), Hawker Siddeley (British Aerospace and BAE Systems), Fokker-VFW, and later, Spanish firm CASA.
The Airbus A300, a medium range wide-body aircraft, debuted in 1972 and entered into service in 1974. Initial sales were sluggish, to the tune of just 15 orders received in 1972; yet, by 1979, Airbus had won 256 orders for the A300. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until the Airbus A320 launched in 1981 that Airbus secured its rank among the aerospace elite. Airbus had gained 400 orders for its A320 before the new aircraft took its maiden voyage.
Airbus continued its growth and success with the A320 throughout the 1980s. The company soon introduced two mid-sized airliners to its lineup: the Airbus A330 and Airbus A340.