The Latest: Airbus is ready for autonomous planes; are you?

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French President Emmanuel Macron, French Defence Minister Florence Parly and Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, attend the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget

Alpha jets from the French Air Force Patrouille de France fly during the inauguration the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, Monday June 17, 2019. The world’s aviation elite are gathering at the Paris Air Show with safety concerns on many minds after two crashes of the popular Boeing 737 Max. (Benoit Tessier/Pool via AP)

LE BOURGET, France (AP) — The Latest on the Paris Air Show (all times local):

7 p.m.

The chief salesman for Airbus says his company already has the technology to fly passenger planes without pilots at all — and is working on winning over regulators and travelers to the idea.

Christian Scherer also said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that Airbus hopes to be selling hybrid or electric passenger jets by around 2035.

While the company is still far from ready to churn out battery-operated jumbo jets, Scherer said Airbus already has “the technology for autonomous flying” and for planes flown by just one pilot.

He told The Associated Press: “When can we introduce it in large commercial aircraft? That is a matter we are discussing with regulators and customers, but technology-wise, we don’t see a hurdle.”

Safety is an obvious concern — and that’s an issue that is on many minds after two deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 Max jet.

Scherer said the crashes “highlighted and underlined the need for absolute, uncompromising safety in this industry, whether from Airbus, Boeing or any other plane.”

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3:50 p.m.

Boeing is seeing lackluster contracts at the Paris Air Show so far as it tries to win back trust from customers after the crashes of two 737 Max jets.

The company announced a deal Monday to provide services and parts for British Airways via its owner International Airlines Group, and another to provide technology to help United Airlines set pilot schedules. Boeing also struck a deal for freighter jets with leasing company GECAS.

Asked whether the Max crashes affected its trust in Boeing, British Airways Chief Financial Officer Steve Gunning said, “We’re confident that Boeing will solve those issues and will get these issues behind them.” His airline did not announce any new plane purchases from Boeing.

In contrast, rival Airbus announced a string of plane sales on the first day of the Paris Air Show worth several billion dollars.

Boeing’s CEO said the company came to the air show with a tone of humility after the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, which killed 346 people.

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3:10 p.m.

Families of victims, regulators and airlines have mixed feelings about Boeing’s apology for 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people.

Ningsi Ayorbaba told The Associated Press: “I hope this is a good signal for the victims to have compensation rights that we have not yet received.”

Her husband Paul Ferdinand Ayorbaba died in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October. She is among dozens of families who have filed lawsuits against Boeing.

Indonesia’s transportation ministry said the government is still waiting for “transparent work of the aircraft maker to fix the problem” that led to the crashes. Investigations are underway.

An Ethiopian who lost her younger brother in an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March said Boeing’s apology is not enough, and expressed concern about Boeing’s push to re-certify the 737 Max.

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said Boeing’s apology Monday at the Paris Air Show “is consistent with our opinion.”

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12:20 p.m.

France, Germany and Spain have agreed to develop a joint European fighter jet and air combat system that could also control drones and satellites.

With a model of the jet as a backdrop, defense ministers from the three countries signed an agreement Monday at the Paris Air Show that lays out how the countries will cooperate on the project, which would include a new-generation combat aircraft. French President Emmanuel Macron presided over the signing.

The Future Combat Air System is expected to be operational by 2040.

France sees it as a key step in its push for more European defense efforts, given U.S. President Donald Trump’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for supporting Europe militarily.

Authorities have not said how much it would cost but the dpa news agency estimates it could be 100 billion euros ($112 billion).

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11:25 a.m.

Airbus will start making a new single-aisle long-range jet, beating rival Boeing to the market in this category.

The European plane maker launched the A321XLR jet Monday at the Paris Air Show, saying it will be ready for customers in 2023 and will fly up to 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 kilometers).

Chief salesman Christian Scherer would not say how much the plane would cost to develop, but said it would be significantly less than building a whole new plane because it is an upgraded version of the existing A321.

It was the biggest new plane announcement expected at the Paris Air Show gathering of aviation industry powerhouses.

Boeing is considering whether to build a new jet — the concept is dubbed New Midsize Airplane, or NMA — that would be close in size to the A321XLR. It would fill a gap in the Boeing lineup between the smaller 737 and the larger 777 and 787.

Right after the launch, Los Angeles-based Air Lease Corporation signed a letter of intent to buy 27 of the new Airbus planes.

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9:55 a.m.

A Boeing executive is apologizing to airlines and families of victims of 737 Max crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. 

Kevin McAllister, CEO of Boeing’s commercial aircraft, told reporters at the Paris Air Show on Monday that “we are very sorry for the loss of lives” in the Lion Air crash in October and Ethiopian Airlines crash in March. A total of 346 people were killed.

McAllister also said “I’m sorry for the disruption” to airlines from the subsequent grounding of all Max planes worldwide, and to their passengers. He stressed that the company is working hard to learn from what went wrong but wouldn’t say when the plane could fly again.

Other Boeing executives also stressed the company’s focus on safety and condolences to victims’ families.

Angle-measuring sensors in both planes malfunctioned, alerting anti-stall software to push the noses of the planes down. The pilots were unable to take back control of the planes.  Investigations are underway.

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9:45 a.m.

The world’s aviation elite are gathering at the Paris Air Show with safety concerns on many minds after two crashes of the popular Boeing 737 Max.

The global economic slowdown and trade tensions between the U.S. and other powers are also weighing on the event that opened Monday at Le Bourget airfield.

Boeing’s CEO said the company is heading into this week’s show with “humility” after the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia and Boeing’s botched communication over a cockpit warning system in the Max.

Rival Airbus is expecting some big orders despite a slow sales year so far, and is likely to unveil its long-range A320 XLR at the Paris show.

The event also is showcasing electric planes, pilotless air taxis and other cutting-edge technology.

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The item timed at 9:55 a.m. has been corrected to give the name of the official who spoke as Kevin McAllister, not Randy Tinseth. The item timed at 11:25 a.m. has been corrected to give the distance in nautical miles, not miles, and fix the conversion accordingly.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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