On May 29, 2019, Airbus celebrated its 50th birthday. In the five decades since its founding, Airbus has gone from a fledgling upstart to one of the industry’s titans.
In fact, Airbus, along with Boeing, now occupies one half of the global duopoly that dominates commercial airliner production.
The company we know today as Airbus can trace its history back to an agreement signed in July 1967 by the French, German, and British governments to strengthen their cooperation in the field of aviation technology.
Included in the agreement is a clause that called for the governments “to take appropriate measures for the joint development and production of an airbus.”
However, the Airbus that we know today would not be formed until May 29, 1969, when the French and German governments agreed to lead a consortium that would produce and sell the A300B airliner.
It was a decision made out of necessity, Richard Aboulafia, an aviation industry analyst for the consulting company Teal Group, told Business Insider.
At the time, American firms like Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Lockheed were growing in strength and influence around the world. European manufacturers, once commercial aviation’s leaders in innovation, were feeling the pinch.
The consortium would be based at the headquarters of Sud Aviation in Toulouse, France where it remains today.
Here’s a closer look at the past 50 years of Airbus: