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Airbus' new high-tech composite plane takes off on its first test flight today nike hyperadapt womens australia , with its backers predicting hundreds of orders at next week's Paris Air Show as the European company ups the fight against Boeing.

The test flight of the A350 is a milestone for an airliner that the firm hopes will challenge its US rival's lead in the lucrative long-haul market and take on Boeing's troubled 787 Dreamliner.

Tom Enders, the head of Airbus's parent company EADS, was bullish on the question of orders.

"I believe that the air show next week should be good for a few hundred orders for Airbus," he said, ahead of Monday's opening of the high-profile Paris event.

The A350 - more than half of which is made of light composite materials that reduce fuel costs - will lift off from the southwestern city of Toulouse this morning nike hyperadapt australia , weather permitting.

A British and a French test pilot will fly the long-haul plane assisted by a flight engineer and three other engineers at the back.

If today's flight is successful, the plane will enter a test-flying period that Airbus hopes will last less than 18 months, with the first delivery expected at the end of next year.

Confirmed customers so far include Qatar Airways, British Airways and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific.

The A350 will complete Airbus's long-haul stable, which includes the A380 super jumbo. It will gradually replace the older A330 nike react hyperdunk australia , a popular plane that analysts say has generated almost half of the firm's revenues in recent years.

Airbus has positioned the A350 between Boeing's popular 777 and its new 787 Dreamliner, which came into service after long delays in September 2011 and also makes extensive use of composites.

The European company hopes it will eat away at both planes' markets.

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