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August 15, 2009

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British fly lower on funds for new plane

THE British government pledged 340 million pounds (US$562 million) to Airbus yesterday to help develop its A350 XWB aircraft -- significantly less than the funding already committed by France and Germany.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said the British support for building Airbus' new carbon-fiber wide-body aircraft will create more than 1,200 direct jobs and another 5,000 jobs across the supply chain in Britain.

The British, French, German and Spanish governments have traditionally supported new Airbus jet programs via repayable launch funding -- with the amount of work allocated to each in return dependent on their contribution.

At the Paris Air Show in June, France said it would provide funding of 1.4 billion euros (US$1.94 billion) while Germany pledged up to 1.1 billion euros. Spain has not announced a commitment.

Britain has in the past received around 20 percent of the work on a new Airbus jet, specializing in the design and manufacture of wings.

Mandelson said yesterday that the funding will allow Britain to strengthen its position as a world leader in wing, landing gear and fuel integration systems technologies and ensure it plays a leading role in the plane's development.

Airbus has designed the aircraft to compete with Boeing Co's forthcoming 787. Both models are more fuel-efficient than aircraft flying today thanks to a greater use of lightweight composite carbon materials.


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