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Airbus marks a milestone: 10,000 planes and climbing

Harriet Baskas, special to CNBC.com
An Airbus A350-900 delivered to Singapore Airlines.
Source: Airbus

Earlier this month, Airbus — one of the world's top airplane manufacturers — marked a milestone with the delivery of its 10,000th aircraft: an A350-900 that went to Singapore Airlines adorned with a special decal. The plane was the sixth one received by Singapore Air, which placed its first order with Airbus in 1979, and went into service on the airline's nonstop service between Singapore and San Francisco, which lasts at least 14 hours.

At an event celebrated at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France — complete with giant balloons and a massive cake — Airbus CEO Tom Enders told a group that "In the 1970s, Airbus was producing at the rate of half an aircraft per month. Today we deliver more than 600 aircraft per year. Every year we get faster and more efficient."

In Toulouse, CNBC got an inside (and outside) look at how the manufacturer puts together the A350. What follows are some of the scenes captured during Airbus' commemoration of the 10,000 milestone.


Getting the plane in shape
Singapore Airlines aircraft at the factory in Toulouse, France.
Harriet Baskas

Airbus employees do some last minute inspections of the company's 10,000th aircraft before delivery to Singapore Airlines at the factory in Toulouse.

It's a celebration
Singapore Airlines aircraft, with 10,000 decal
Source: Airbus

Airbus and Singapore let the good times roll in Toulouse, with giant balloons flanking the airplane and a giant "10,000th" decal affixed to it.

The gang's all here
Airbus COO John Leahy, Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong and Airbus CEO Tom Enders with plaque
Source: Airbus

A Singapore airlines flight attendant joins Airbus COO John Leahy, Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong and Airbus CEO Tom Enders with a plaque of Singapore Airlines receipt of the Airbus A350.

A long haul
Singapore Air pilots
Harriet Baskas

At the ceremony, pilots for the delivery flight to Singapore pose with an Airbus test pilot. The flight is so long, up to 17 hours depending on wind conditions, that two sets of pilots are required to be on board.

Airbus plane docked at Toulouse, France
Harriet Baskas

Airbus employees, news media, Singapore Airlines representatives and others crowded around to get the first look at the 10,000th aircraft.

An Airbus A350 being assembled in Toulouse.
Harriet Baskas

Ten thousand down, many more to go. Along with the A350 seen here, Airbus assembly lines also cranked out the company's A320, A330, A380 and A350 XWB jetliners. As of last month, Airbus has 810 firm orders from 43 customers for just the A350 XWB aircraft.

A Singapore Airlines A380-900 Business Class seat
Harriet Baskas

Singapore Airlines' A380-900 airplanes have 253 seats: 42 Business class seats, 24 Premium Economy seats and 187 economy seats. The Business Class seat is 28 inches wide and extends to a 78-inch-long bed. Additional features include a height-adjustable table, in-seat laptop power and a personal vanity mirror.