Airbus has passed a significant landmark in August after receiving its 5,000 th aircraft order. The news comes just over 30 years after Airbus received its first ever order from Air France for the A300B2 type aircraft – the first commercial aircraft manufactured by Airbus.

Since the first Airbus aircraft went into service in 1974 with Air France, Airbus has seen sales of its aircraft gain increasing momentum. By 1989, after its first 15 years in operation, Airbus had sold 1,000 aircraft. Less than half that time again, just seven years later in 1996, sales had risen to 2,000. Sales of Airbus aircraft had reached 3,000 in 1998, again cutting the time it took to sell another 1,000 planes by more than half. And by 2000 a total of 4,000 aircraft had been sold to the market.

The number of Airbus customers has now risen to 192 and the aircraft manufacturer boasts 225 operators of its aircraft. This has grown from 126 operators in 1994 and 42 operators in 1984.

Although the Airbus fleet has accumulated some 72 million flight hours over the last 30 years and an Airbus aircraft now takes off or lands every four seconds, it is the youngest and most modern in service. Around 70 per cent of the entire Airbus fleet is less than 10 years old. Approximately 25 per cent is between 10 and 20 years old and just five per cent is more than 20 years old.

In the last 30 years Airbus has designed and manufactured 12 different aircraft types to meet the various needs of the industry and Airbus aircraft are now represented all around the world. In 1974, Airbus delivered its first ever aircraft an A300, which was followed by the A310 in 1983 and the A320 in 1988. First deliveries of the A340-300 and A330-300 were in 1993 and the A321 in 1994. Following this was the A319 in 1996, the A330-200 in 1998 and the A340-600 in 2002. Most recently, in 2003, Airbus delivered its smallest aircraft to date the A318 and also the A340-500, which is the longest range aircraft available. Its latest addition, the A380 - the largest commercial airliner ever produced - is due to enter into service in 2006.

Serving all types of operations, from low-cost to top-of-the-range, long-haul to freighter, the Airbus product range meets the needs of every type of customer.

From Airbus’ total order book, which is now more than 5,000 aircraft, 27 per cent have been ordered from Europe, 43 per cent from North America, 18 per cent from the Far East, six per cent from the Middle East, four per cent from Latin America and two per cent from Africa.

Airbus’ success is based on the development of many of the innovations that are now standard throughout the industry. It uses cutting-edge designs and the latest technical innovations, where appropriate and beneficial to the operator. This includes developing the first twin-aisle twin and Airbus’ fly-by-wire control system, which has bought an unequalled level of operational commonality across its aircraft. As well as being cost effective, Airbus aircraft provide the highest level of operational performance and passenger comfort.

Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive family of airliners on the market. They range in capacity from 100 to more than 500 seats and incorporate the latest state-of-the-art technologies. Airbus has delivered more than 3,500 aircraft to some 260 customers and operators worldwide, and boasts a healthy delivery backlog of some 1,400 aircraft, which, at current rates, represents close to five years of production. With an annual turnover of €19.2 billion in 2003, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain, as well as subsidiaries in the US, China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.