Airbus Group - The sky's not the limit

Various pictures of skies as background for the products


At Airbus we revolutionize aerospace
by pushing boundaries every day.

Join us on a special flight from ground level
to the depths of outer space.

Complete the journey and take our quiz
to test your aerospace knowledge!

The sky's not the limit

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e-fan e-fan

Free atmosphere

The free atmosphere starts at an altitude of about 1,000 metres. Air motions are less turbulent for aircraft here as the free air is not exposed to the friction of the Earth’s surface.

Climbing record

In 2015 Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made history. After 19 days the climbers finished their quest to be the first to free-climb Dawn Wall, the steepest section of the 915-metre-high rock known as El Capitan at Yosemite National Park, California.


Clean as a butterfly and hums like a bee

0 CO₂ emissions
in flight

Up to 1 hour Current autonomy:


Weighing 600 kilograms with a cruise speed of 160 km/h, the E-Fan is the first purpose-built, electrically powered trainer aircraft. It is significantly quieter than a conventionally powered aircraft and has zero CO₂ emissions in flight. This ‘plug-in plane’ is part of Airbus' electric roadmap, which aims at achieving silent, CO₂-free, all-electric flight for both unmanned and passenger aircraft over the next three decades.

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Monarch butterflies

In winter Monarch butterflies travel up to 5,000 kilometres from the US and Canada to mountain forests in central Mexico, where they hibernate.


Setting the benchmark for
the most demanding missions

Most kids want to be a fireman or a pilot when they grow up. And I was no different.”

Olivier Gensse, Airbus Helicopters test pilot

Climb records:
3,000 m in 03:10 min
6,000 m in 06:54 min

250 nautical miles Rescue missions to
more than


From offshore flights to emergency medical and search and rescue missions, the H175 can handle the most demanding operational circumstances and weather conditions. It also became the first entirely new helicopter to receive certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency, rather than a national authority. The H175 exceeds the latest international safety standards, with fully redundant systems and energy-absorbing landing gear and seats.

Most kids want to be a fireman or a pilot when they grow up. And I was no different. Except that I never let go of my dream. I’ve wanted to be a pilot for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would look up into the sky whenever there was an airplane overhead and think, ‘Wow, I want to do that one day!’ It’s a goal I’ve pursued from the very beginning, I’ve stuck to it – and it’s worked out well!

Airbus Helicopters test pilot Olivier Gensse flew the H175 in northern Canada in icy conditions, with temperatures plunging as low as -40° C.

Olivier Gensse, Airbus Helicopters test pilot


Highly agile and barely detectable –
the Tiger is made to survive

From -30°C
to ISA +35°C



This medium-size, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter was developed to operate in extreme conditions. The extensive use of composite materials considerably reduces routine maintenance and increases resistance to corrosion. The Tiger has proven its capabilities during operational deployments in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Libya and Mali.

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The standard sport skydiving altitude is about 4,000 metres. From here a skydiver – like Airbus CEO and former parachutist Tom Enders – can enjoy a free-fall at a fall rate of around 185 km/h of up to one minute until he reaches pull altitude.

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The first of the next-generation helicopters is already changing the game

There’s something fascinating about helicopters. You have to wonder how tonnes of machinery can hover with such apparent ease.”

Pauline Jacquet, H160 engineer

50% Exterior noise


The H160 is Airbus Helicopters’s new generation 5.5 to 6-ton twin-engine helicopter. Incorporating innovative technologies from Airbus Helicopters and its industrial partners, the H160 will be tailored for a wide range of applications, including oil and gas operations, emergency medical services, public service, and business and private aviation. Its service entry is planned for 2018.

There is something fascinating about helicopters. You have to wonder how tonnes of machinery can hover with such apparent ease while delivering such performance”.

Upon completing her aerospace engineering studies in Toulouse, Pauline joined Airbus Helicopters in Marignane as Programme Management Officer on the NH90 programme. Today she is a member of the H160 stress, loads and crash team.

Pauline Jacquet, H160 engineer
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A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport

The most capable new generation tanker

Fuel flow rate:
4,500 liters/min

Maximum payload:
45 tonnes

A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport

The A330 MRTT can perform three roles (aerial refueling, passengers, cargo) on a single flight, allowing for instance the deployment of a fighter aircraft group over 5,000 km non-stop, while carrying at the same time 20 tons of payload: personnel in the upper deck, cargo in the lower deck. This makes the A330 MRTT a key asset for the rapid self-deployment of any country.

Various pictures of skies as background for the products


Higher in the Troposphere.

At the top of the world, we're striving
for cleaner and smarter skies

e-fan--1 h125--0
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h125 h125

Maximum altitude for climbers

Above 8,000 metres the amount of oxygen is insufficient and the body can no longer adapt and recuperate. That’s why mountaineers have to reach the summit of the Himalayan peaks in just a few hours before returning back to their camp below 8,000 metres.


A record-setting helicopter,
the H125 is on top of the world

Landing on Everest was a unique human and technological adventure. Like all adventures, you have to try and make it happen.”

Didier Delsalle, Airbus Helicopters X-test pilot

Rate of climb:
10 m/s

First touch-down
on Everest


The H125, formerly the Ecureuil AS350 B3e, was the first helicopter to summit Mount Everest, landing on a snowy ridge some 8,850 metres above sea level in 2005. Rescue operations at such altitudes always pose a challenge, but today nearly 1,600 operators confidently navigate some 5,000 Ecureuil family helicopters around the globe, empowered by this performance record. In 2014, an H125 landed on Mexico’s highest summit at 5,610 metres.

Landing on Everest was a unique human and technological adventure. Like all adventures, you have to try and make it happen, because you learn very little if you don’t explore new flight envelopes.”

Setting off from a camp in Nepal, Didier’s H125 took 30 minutes to reach the summit. With extreme winds buffeting the mountain top, he drew on his skill and expertise to keep the helicopter stable on the precarious landing area.

Didier Delsalle,
Airbus Helicopters X-test pilot
a380 a380


The largest commercial aircraft is actually the world's quietest, too

World's largest
civil aircraft

4m individual


Upon completing the A380’s first flight, chief test pilot Jacques Rosay said flying the stable craft had been "like handling a bicycle." Over 10 years later, the A380 has become the primary solution to satisfy the growth in demand for air travel. The aircraft has raised the bar for environmental standards. In fact, it generates 50% less noise on departure than comparable aircraft, as well as four times less when landing – all while carrying 60% more passengers.


Average cruising altitude

Commercial aircraft fly at an altitude of about 30,000 feet (10 kilometres) because that’s where you’ll find the optimal efficiency for engines and wings, balanced by optimal cabin pressure for comfort.

A350 XWB

‘XWB’ doesn’t stand for eXcelling Way Better – but it might as well

-25% CO₂ emissions

A350 XWB

The A350 XWB (that’s eXtra wide body) is the newest member of the Airbus family. Its spacious cabin makes passenger comfort and well-being priority no 1 on long-haul flights, yet all that room doesn’t equal bulk. In fact, thanks in part to a 53% composite body and aerodynamic advances, it boasts a 25% step change in fuel efficiency compared to current aluminium long-range competitors. Combining passenger comfort, technological innovation and a unique industrial process, the A350 XWB has the Xtras that make the difference. This is the aircraft for the future, already flying today!

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The tropopause is the transition between troposphere and stratosphere. It ranges from 6 to 18 kilometres, just above the weather layer of the atmosphere.

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Rüppell's vulture

Rüppell's vulture holds the record for being the highest flying bird, with confirmed evidence of a flight at an altitude of 11,300 metres over the Ivory Coast.


Unbeatable fuel efficiency

The final assembly line is one big family. There’s a unity of purpose, and we are attached to those aircraft.”

Marion Chaine, A320neo Project Manager, Toulouse

20%Fuel burn


The NEO (new engine option) is the latest development in the A320’s long career of continuous evolution, embodying Airbus’ philosophy of incremental innovation. Indeed, the A320neo Family is reaching new heights, with increased fuel-burn savings per seat, further improved to 20% by 2020.

For Marion Chaine, aeronautics is a family affair. Her grandmother assembled Allied fighters during World War II, while her father and grandfather worked in aviation research. “My career choice was sealed from an early age,” she says. A qualified production engineer, Chaine is responsible for delivering Toulouse-assembled A320neos on time, cost and quality.

Marion Chaine, A320neo Project Manager, Toulouse
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Contrails arise when water vapor condenses and freezes around small particles that exist in aircraft exhaust. They usually form above 8.000 meters at temperatures below - 36.5° Celsius.


The A400M airlifter delivers directly to the point of need

Maximum payload
up to 37 tonnes

Carries up to
116 personnel

Up to 8,900 km Flies distances


The A400M airlifter is the world’s most advanced military transport aircraft. It excels at tactical missions directly to the point of need, long-range strategic or logistical missions, and also serves as an air-to-air refuelling “tanker”. Thus, it’s able to fulfil the varied requirements of any nation in terms of military, humanitarian and civic missions for the benefit of society.

Various pictures of skies as background for the products


Welcome to the Stratosphere.

This far above the earth, our mission
goal is to improve life below



The stratosphere is the second major layer of the atmosphere from about 12 to 50 kilometres. In this zone, temperatures rise with increasing altitude.

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Weather Balloon

Measuring the weather conditions: high-altitude balloons are usually filled with helium or hydrogen and can reach a maximum height of 37 kilometres.

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Eurofighter Typhoon

The most powerful and reliable swing-role fighter becomes even more dynamic

Max. Speed:
2,495 km/h

horsepower jet

Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets protect the skies over Europe, the Middle East and numerous operations around the world. They’re on Quick Reaction Alert duty 24/7, and they’ve become the backbone of Air Forces in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia. The Sultanate of Oman and Kuwait have ordered Eurofighter Typhoon and will be operational within their Air Forces in the near future. When the chips are down, air chiefs choose the Typhoon for its versatility, reliability, resiliency and cost-effectiveness.

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Ozone Layer

Although the ozone concentration is rather small, this layer of the stratosphere is important to life because it absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.


You’ll see more from this solar-powered pseudo-satellite that flies above the weather

World record for longest flight duration
without refuelling for a UAV: 14 days

Cruise speed:
30 knots (55.5 km/h)


The Zephyr is a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS). Running exclusively on solar power and flying at high altitudes above the weather and conventional air traffic, it fills a capability gap between satellites and UAVs. It looks like a glider and, being solar powered, offers airborne coverage of a defined area for future medium- and long-term missions.


Airbus Perlan Mission II

Surfing stratospheric mountain waves to take gliding to new heights

We’re charting unknown territory — that’s every scientist’s dream.”

Dr. Elizabeth Austin, Airbus Perlan Mission II Chief Meteorologist Atmospheric Physicist

Flight speed:
648 km/h

27,432 metres

25.6 metres

Perlan II

The Airbus Perlan II Mission is a purpose-built glider aiming to surf a wave of air up into the stratosphere in 2016. It will fly in a near vacuum with air density less than 2% of that at sea level, using a pressurised cabin – up until now unnecessary in gliding. It’s equipped with the life support systems of a spaceship, and has a modular bay for scientific instrumentation, which will collect data from uncharted levels of the Earth’s atmosphere.

We’re going to have multiple masters and PhD students writing their meteorological, aviation and aeronautical engineering theses on this project. The Perlan Mission’s longevity is extended thanks to their research of those shaping aerospace’s future.”

Dr. Elizabeth Austin is one of the foremost experts on the impact of extreme weather. Her work supports the Perlan project’s goals of aeronautical exploration, meteorological research and education.

Dr. Elizabeth Austin, Airbus Perlan Mission II Chief Meteorologist

Future hypersonic aircraft

A high-speed craft like this would turn Paris-to-Tokyo into a 2.5-hour commute


Mach 5


Imagine a commercial aircraft that could fly from Paris to Tokyo in less than 2.5 hours with a minimal impact on the environment. The Zero Emissions High-speed Transport (ZEHST) concept, which is Airbus' contribution to the joint European-Japanese HIKARI hypersonic aircraft project, aims to connect cities around the globe by 2050.


Ariane 6

This state-of-the-art space launcher has a very bright future

Can launch
up to 10 tonnes

Ariane 6

The Ariane 6 will be the next addition to Airbus' space launcher family, dispatching satellites up to 5 or 10 tonnes into geostationary orbit. Its maiden flight is planned for 2020, and meanwhile, a joint venture with Safran is making the programme even more competitive with some very smart innovations.

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The mesosphere is mysterious, as jets and weather balloons can’t fly up here to collect data. This is where most meteors meet their fiery end, ironically in the coldest part of Earth's atmosphere, around -90°C at its highest point.

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Auroras are caused by charged particles – mainly electrons and protons – entering the atmosphere from above, causing ionisation and excitation of atmospheric constituents and consequent optical emissions.

Jumping off the edge of space

Since October 24, 2014 Alan Eustace holds the world record for the highest-altitude free fall jump

Various pictures of skies as background for the products

Outer space

Welcome to Outer Space.

Where we challenge the limits
of scientific exploration


Kármán line

The Kármán line is the "boundary" of outer space, defined by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale as 100 kilometres (62 miles) above the Earth's surface.

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Automated Transfer Vehicle - ATV

On 15 July 2014 the ATV-5 became the last European space freighter to set off for the International Space Station. The success of the uniquely complex ATV programme has led to European industry, for the first time, providing system-critical elements for an American human spaceflight mission. Airbus Defence and Space is now developing the service module for the American ‘Orion-MPCV’ spacecraft, under contract to the European Space Agency.

ISS Columbus Laboratory

A weightless laboratory delivers out-of-this-world experiments

Able to automatically dock
with the ISS at 28,000 km/h

ISS – Columbus laboratory

Built on behalf of the European Space Agency, the Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station enables scientists to conduct research on human physiology, extra-terrestrial life forms, Earth’s atmosphere and nanomaterials – to name just a few. The first permanent European research facility in space, Columbus offers European scientists full access to a weightless environment that simply can’t be duplicated on Earth.

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Geostationary orbit

A geostationary orbit is a circular orbit 35,786 kilometres above the Earth's equator and following the direction of the Earth's rotation. This is prime real estate for communications and weather satellites, because the satellite antennas that communicate with them on Earth don’t have to rotate to track them.

Eurostar E3000e

Setting the pace for future satellites, let’s get into orbit with electric propulsion

39 Eurostar

10 in production

Eurostar E3000e: -40% launch mass
compared to chemical propulsion satellites

Eurostar E3000e

Engineers at Airbus Defence and Space are pioneering the use of all-electric propulsion for large satellites to provide operators with ever more efficient solutions. Based on Airbus DS Eurostar platform for telecommunication satellites, the newest E3000e version uses mass-saving electric propulsion for all in-orbit manoeuvres. This means satellites can be launched at lower cost and there is more space available to add additional capabilities.

From 36,500 km to 1.5 million km.

Fasten your seatbelts



Gaia, a billion-star surveyor, is our galaxy’s new cartographer

A billion-pixel space camera

Potential to detect more than
250,000 new objects in our
solar system


Though Gaia carries a billion-pixel camera as it orbits the sun, its mission for the European Space Agency isn’t to take a selfie of the universe; in fact, it’s creating a huge, highly accurate 3D map of our galaxy, providing insights into the formation and evolution of the Milky Way. Along the way, it’ll discover hundreds of thousands of new celestial objects, and, fascinatingly, can also test general relativity and map the distribution of galactic dark-matter.



The Red Planet is a primary target for the search for signs of life in our solar system. If life ever existed here, it probably did when Mars was moist and warm. Conditions might have been similar to those when microbes gained a foothold on the young Earth.

ExoMars Rover

Searching the Red Planet’s surface

If engineers make things that go into space, that sounds like a pretty cool thing to do.”

Abbie Hutty, Structures Engineer

up to 70 metres a day Autonomously navigates

in 2019

300 kilogrammes Weight:

ExoMars Rover

Europe’s first Mars rovers are currently being put through their paces at Airbus' revamped 'Mars yard' UK test site. Here, engineers are developing sophisticated navigation systems to 'teach' the ExoMars rovers how to drive autonomously across the Red Planet. Once they land in 2019 as part of ESA’s ExoMars mission, these resourceful rovers can roam on their own, collecting and analysing surface samples and searching for traces of life.

When I was a teenager, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. But then I saw the Airbus Mars Express mission on the news, and I thought: if engineers make things that go into space, that sounds like a pretty cool thing to do.”

Abbie is an award-winning engineer and advocate for the industry in the UK. Today, she is developing the structure of the ExoMars Rover Vehicle at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, UK.

Abbie Hutty, Structures Engineer
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The Chosen One

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a small object barely four kilometres in diameter moving at 135,000 km/h beyond the orbit of Jupiter. The landing of Rosetta’s Philae probe on its surface was a milestone in deciphering the origins of the solar system.


Chasing a comet – and the origins of life

It was a journey into the unknown, nobody knew what the comet’s surface was like.”

Gunther Lautenschläger, Rosetta Project Manager

Travelled over
6.4 billion km

The first spacecraft to deliver
a lander to the surface of a comet


After a decade-long voyage into deep space, the Rosetta spacecraft orbitted comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for over 21 months. Rosetta’s Philae probe landed on the surface of the comet on 12 November 2014, and both collected data – Philae from the surface and Rosetta through its debris. On 30 September 2016, Rosetta descended to the surface of the comet in a controlled impact. The mission findings could reveal more about the origins of the solar system, such as the possible role of comets and asteroids in delivering water to our planet in its early history.

When they explained the nature of the mission to me, I thought to myself, ‘It’s a journey into the unknown, nobody knows what the comet’s surface is like.’ It was an incredible challenge across almost all disciplines.

Gunther Lautenschläger is one of 10 lead engineers who began working on the Rosetta mission in 1997. Back then he was responsible for the on-board software. Today, he is Rosetta Project Manager at Airbus Defence and Space.

Gunther Lautenschläger, Rosetta Project Manager
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A pale blue dot

"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena" © Carl Sagan

On February 4, 1990, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft took a picture of planet Earth from a distance of almost 6.5 billion km, the farthest image of Earth ever taken.

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On 10 July 2015, E-Fan became the first twin-engine electric plane taking off under its own power to negotiate the English Channel. Which aviation pioneer was the first to make this intrepid journey more than 100 years ago?