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Airbus says new A350 flies for 1st time on Friday

WASHINGTONAirbus says its newest plane will fly for the first time on Friday.

The A350 will take off from an airport in Toulouse, France, on Friday morning. The company says the plane is getting its final checks before getting the green light for the flight.

The A350, designed for long-haul flights, will compete with Boeing's (BA) new 787 as well as the 777. An Airbus press release said that there will be three versions of the model, adding that the "new family will bring a step change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in this size category, using 25 per cent less fuel and providing an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions." The 787, aka the Dreamliner, is also more fuel-efficient than its predecessors.

The A350 still needs flight testing before it can be delivered to airlines.

Airbus has booked orders for more than 600 of the planes. U.S. customers include United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL) and Hawaiian Airlines (HA).

Airbus is aiming to begin deliveries in the second half of next year.