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First flight of Airbus A350 reopens race of wide-body planes

The Airbus A350 has taken off on its maiden flight, setting the stage for intensifying competition with U.S. rival Boeing in the long-haul wide-body aircraft market.

Friday's flight from Toulouse is to last about four hours and marks a key step on the path to full certification. More than half of the A350 — Airbus' first all-new plane in eight years — is made up of lightweight carbon-fiber designed to save on jet fuel, which makes up about half the cost of long-haul flights

Boeing, still recovering from problems with the lithium batteries on its 787 Dreamliner, currently dominates the long-haul market with the 787 and 777.

"The first flight is a very special moment in an aerospace company," Tom Enders, CEO of parent company EADS, said late Thursday.