in People

Airbus founding father Roger Béteille passes away

Posted 26 June 2019 · Add Comment

Airbus has announced that one of its founding fathers, Roger Béteille, passed away on 14 June at the age of 97.

 

Born in Aveyron, France, in 1921, Béteille studied at Supaéro in Toulouse before joining France’s SNCASE, which later became Sud Aviation, in 1943. He received his pilot’s licence in 1945, becoming thereafter flight test engineer in 1952. He was part of the flight test team on the Caravelle’s first flight.

In July 1967, the idea to develop a 300-seater all new wide-body twinjet was progressing and Béteille was appointed chief engineer for the A300 programme at Sud Aviation. It soon became clear that launch customers Air France and Lufthansa wanted a smaller product.

In early 1968 Béteille started work in secret on what would become the A300B,
a 250 seater with a hold large enough to accommodate two standard containers side by side. The innovative fuselage cross-section he designed is still in use today on the A330.

Known as ‘the man with the white tie’, it was Béteille, along with Airbus’ first production director Felix Kracht, who drew up the workshare which forms the basis of Airbus’ European production system that still defines the company today. “I wanted to use all the available talents and capacities to their utmost without worrying about the colour of the flag or what language was spoken,” he said at the time. He extended this approach to creating a multinational flight test team. The A300B was formally lauched in 1969.

When the Airbus Industrie grouping of economic interests (GIE) was created in 1970, Béteille, now senior vice president of engineering, pushed for its headquarters to be close to the final assembly line in Toulouse, so potential customers could see the product under construction.

By the time the A300B made its first flight on 28 October 1972, Béteille had gained a strong understanding of airlines’ needs, something he put to good use during a decade-long campaign to gain customers. Despite the lean years that followed the OPEC oil crisis, his efforts culminated in the A300’s first US customer - Eastern Airlines - in 1977.

Eastern was led by the former Commander of Apollo 8, Frank Borman, with whom Béteille built a strong relationship.

From the very start, Béteille nurtured a dream: to found an aircraft family. “I was convinced that Airbus would never take off with a single aircraft,” he explained. “Potential customers would wonder if we’d still be around in ten or 20 years’ time.”

His dream truly came to fruition towards the end of his career, when in March 1984 he managed the formal launch of the A320.

Béteille was instrumental in developing its fly-by-wire (FBW) controls, with increased flight safety and wider fuselage, all of which were key to its huge commercial success. Fly-by-wire also enabled the start of cockpit commonality and cross-crew qualification for pilots across Airbus aircraft.

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

International players behind Libya’s drone war

Strikes are taking place every day in Libya’s deadly drone war. In the first conflict where unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are making up the bulk of the air operations, both sides have successfully attacked opposition aircraft. Alan

African airlines’ traffic climbed 1.8% in October

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for October 2019 showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) climbed 3.4% compared to the year-ago period.

SAA to enter into business rescue

South African Airways (SAA) has announced that the Board of Directors of SAA has adopted a resolution to place the company into business rescue at the earliest opportunity.

Just the ticket for tourism - or is it?

A new agreement among African states seeks to link the growth of air transport and tourism – but more has to be done to improve the continent’s aviation infrastructure. Alan Dron reports.

Air Senegal receives second A330neo

Air Senegal has taken delivery of its second A330neo. Anuradha Deenapanray Chappard reports.

African freight carriers see fastest growth of any region in October

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), decreased by 3.5% in October 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

TAA SK0104311219
See us at
AVMENA20 BT1309100620AVAFA20BT2207050320