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A350 XWB first flight (pictures)

With thousands on hand near Airbus' headquarters in Blagnac, France, the aviation giant's next-generation plane took to the sky for the first time.

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Daniel Terdiman
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Wheels up

It might be the last highly-anticipated first flight for years to come. Early this morning, Airbus' A350 XWB, the aviation giant's next-generation, highly-fuel-efficient airplane, made with more than 50 percent composite materials, took the skies on its inaugural flight.

CNET couldn't be on hand in Blagnac, France, where Airbus' world headquarters is located, but thanks to a live stream, we're able to share the images of the A350's first flight with you.

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Plane and many people

With A350 enthusiasts in the foreground, the airplane is seen on the tarmac readying for its first flight.
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Thousands of enthusiasts

First flights like that of the A350 XWB are a magnet for serious aviation enthusiasts like the thousands that turned out Friday morning near Toulouse, France, for the plane's inaugural flight.
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Long aerial

An aerial shot from a helicopter shows the A350 XWB sitting alone (center-right) on the tarmac at the airfield in Blagnac, France.
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Above

Another aerial shot shows the A350 almost from directly above.
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Telemetry room

Airbus personnel monitor the first flight proceedings in the telemetry room.
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A350 and Airbus planes

With a group of other Airbus airplanes in the foreground, the A350 XWB awaits rolling down the tarmac before takeoff.
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Sitting and waiting

It's almost takeoff time for the A350 XWB.
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Readying for first flight

The airplane is just seconds away from takeoff.
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Lined up by the hundreds

People line the barriers at the airfield, eager to see the A350 XWB take air for the first time.
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Nearly ready

In the minutes prior to takeoff, the airplane sat alone just to the side of the runway.
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Wheels up in the air

Seen from the front, the A350's wheels are up in the air for the very first time.
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In the air

The A350 XWB begins its initial four-hour journey.
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Takeoff

It's takeoff for the very first time for the A350 XWB.
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Chase plane

A chase plane flies past the A350 just after takeoff.
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Beauty

The A350 XWB is an attractive airplane, one that has already garnered Airbus 613 preorders.
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Straight up

The A350, seen at takeoff from directly in front.
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Slight turn

The airplane starts a slight turn, allowing a view of its underside.
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Disappearing into the clouds

The airplane begins to disappear into clouds over the airfield.
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On its way

Airbus' first A350 XWB disappears into the clouds. It is scheduled for a four-hour first flight.

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