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Airbus Gets Go-Ahead for A350

The European plane maker can start building a jet it hopes will compete with Boeing's Dreamliner.
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Airbus has received the go-ahead from its parent company to build its A350 XWB passenger jet, which could give the European plane maker a boost in its battle with rival Boeing (BA) .

Airbus said Friday that the board of its parent, European Aeronautic Defence and Space, gave the green light to the medium-sized, long-haul plane. "The decision is based on strong market demand and customer backing," Airbus said in a news release, adding that it expects the first A350 XWB will go into service in 2013.

The Toulouse, France-based company seized the lead in passenger jet orders from Boeing in recent years but has stumbled badly recently, as its A380 superjumbo experienced embarrassing production delays.

Airbus originally conceived of the A350 as a modified version of its existing A330 that would compete with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, a fuel-efficient medium-sized plane constructed from composite materials. Airbus was forced to go back to the drawing board, however, after potential customers complained the A350 wasn't attractive compared to the 787.

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Boeing has a significant head start with its next-generation plane; it expects the first 787 to go into service in 2008.

Boeing shares finished Friday up $1.02 at $89.55.