Poised for takeoff on that hot morning in April 2005, the Airbus A380 had the purposeful, powerful presence of a giant predatory bird. With its enormous gulled wings, imperiously tall tail, and broad, domed forepeak, it looked ready to take on the world. And along the way, it has had plenty of supporters—and critics. No civil airliner since the supersonic Concorde has aroused such emotion, such fascination, and such cause célèbre.
To a confident Airbus and the thousands of awestruck workers who cheered it into that cloudless sky over Toulouse, it means so much more. The European company has been transformed under the broad wings of this incredible project into a single corporate entity—from a loose consortium into a new, more dynamic force to challenge its worthy adversary Boeing in every market sector.