Airbus' A350 XWB makes its first flight

For airplane enthusiasts, there's nothing quite like a first flight.

And for fans of Airbus' A350 XWB, this meant that Friday morning provided one of the best treats of all.

With thousands on hand near the Airbus headquarters in Blagnac, France (just outside Toulouse), its next-generation A350 XWB took off on its first flight this morning.

The A350 XWB is Airbus' response to three planes from archrival Boeing: the troubled but still popular 787 Dreamliner, as well as the 777 and 777-X. The new Airbus was designed to be one of the most fuel-efficient planes ever, thanks largely to … Read more

Airbus A350 XWB to make first flight Friday

Airbus has confirmed that the A350 XWB will make its first flight Friday, a milestone that marks perhaps the last highly touted inaugural flight for years to come.

Over the last 10 years, aviation enthusiasts have been treated to a series of exciting first flights, from Airbus' A380 to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 Intercontinental. But with no other game-changing airplanes set to be launched in the next five years or more, the A350's first flight could be it for a while.

There has been significant speculation in recent weeks that the plane would take flight in time … Read more

After long delay, 787 Dreamliner flights resume

Five months later, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is once again aloft.

United Flight 1 took off from Houston Monday morning en route to Chicago. It marked the first flight of Boeing's next-generation airliner since the entire worldwide fleet of Dreamliners was grounded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in January in the wake of multiple on-board fires.

The fires were found to be related to the plane's batteries, and in the months since then, Boeing and its suppliers have worked to correct the problems. Last month, the FAA approved Boeing's proposed fix to the battery issues, … Read more

It's Airbus' A350 vs. Boeing's Dreamliner in the 'War of the Wide-bodies'

With Boeing's 787 Dreamliner reeling from recent and well-publicized setbacks, the commercial airline industry is no doubt eagerly awaiting the first flight of Airbus' next new airplane, the A350 XWB.

Although Airbus isn't saying when it will unveil the all-new A350 XWB (the XWB stands for "extra-wide body"), there is plenty of speculation that those attending this summer's Paris Air Show will get to see the plane in flight.

This would be big news for a number of airlines, who no doubt are wondering if they can afford to tie themselves to the Dreamliner, given … Read more

Where should CNET Road Trip go in the Midwest?

Summer is still three months away, but here in Northern California, with bright sunshine outside (and windows to keep the chilly wind out), it already feels like it's just around the corner.

That's also because I've already started the planning for Road Trip 2013, my eighth-annual journey to highlight some of the best destinations around for technology, military, architecture, science, nature, and so on.

For six of the past seven years, CNET Road Trip has taken me all around the roads of the United States, giving me the opportunity to visit the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, the … Read more

Where, oh where are all the grounded 787 Dreamliners?

There's been no shortage of publicity and investigation surrounding the grounding of the world's 787 Dreamliner fleet after recent battery fires aboard the Boeing airplanes. But there's one question that has gone unanswered: Where are all those Dreamliners?

Thanks to our friends at, we now know where all those planes are sitting as regulators, Boeing, and its battery suppliers work to once again get eager passengers aboard the much-hyped aircraft.

According to, there are currently eight carriers flying Dreamliners -- if you can call having a bunch of planes parked on tarmacs at … Read more

BlackJet, the Uber for private jets, takes off

SAN FRANCISCO--In an era of "Entourage" and a well-publicized fleet of planes personally owned by Google's top execs, the private jet has never before seemed as accessible to so many.

The truth is, of course, that just a tiny fraction of the population will ever set foot on any plane other than a commercial airliner, but traveling by Gulfstream has become romanticized in popular culture, and as that's happened, there's been a rise in the number of companies aiming to provide a more efficient, and more affordable way to fly private.

Into that new environment … Read more

How Boeing's 777-300ER could help save American Airlines

It has become the world's most-successful twin-engine airplane, but until now, no U.S. carrier has flown Boeing's 777-300ER. But with the launch on Thursday of its Dallas to Sao Paolo, Brazil, flight, American Airlines has broken new ground, and is now depending on its fledgling 777-300ER fleet to re-earn its once legendary wings. And make it a lot of money.

Among the many passengers aboard the inaugural flight to Sao Paolo was Chris Sloan, an aviation writer who often flies on the most notable planes in the skies and blogs about those travels on Sloan, … Read more

Despite setbacks, airlines and passengers still on board the Dreamliner

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has suffered through a series of high-profile delays and setbacks, culminating in this week's grounding by the U.S. government, but thanks to its cutting-edge technology, it's almost certain the plane will thrive in spite of the repeated body blows.

The Dreamliner -- the much-heralded, next-generation plane that Boeing designed to offer airlines big fuel efficiencies and access to new intercontinental routes -- had already stumbled through more than three years of delays including an onboard electrical fire before the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded the entire U.S.-based fleet this week … Read more

Uber-style private jet service goes live

BlackJet, the private plane charter service modeled after Uber cab, is available for use -- if you have a bunch of money to throw around and a super-secret invite code.

First noticed by TNW, BlackJet tweeted its live status today, drawing a few interested flyers who wanted an invite code. The company's Twtter account didn't answer, of course. It's too exclusive for that.

It's probably best that most of us won't know what were missing -- the cost of the required membership for the service starts at $2,000. Passengers reportedly will then pay $950 … Read more