AIRPLANES: Royal Fete For a Eurojet

Royal Fete For a Eurojet

As a crowd of 1,200 onlookers gathered in the cavernous hangar of the Aerospatiale company in Toulouse, France, loud pop music filled the air. Suddenly the lights dimmed, clouds of smoke billowed across the red-carpeted floor, and a curtain parted to reveal a gleaming white jetliner. It was the A- 320, a 150-seat aircraft that is the new offering from Airbus, the European consortium. For a final touch of pizazz, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, on hand for the debut, sloshed champagne over the plane's nose.

The Airbus 320, which will go into service next year, poses a major challenge to...

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