If you’re going to build a plane that’s worth $300 million, it’s probably worth getting a decent shot of it. That’s the outlook Airbus clearly took when organizing a photoshoot of the brand new A350–900s. By PetaPixel’s calculations, the entire exercise must have cost around $75,000 and a whole lot of tension. But just look at the results.
Passenger airliners like these are capable of pulling impressive maneuvers, but there’s a reason why Airbus predominantly used pilots with a military background — flying aircraft of this size in such tight formation requires immense skill and courage. However, the photography team had plenty of challenges of their own. Aerial shoots are usually hosted on a tiny prop plane, but this shoot required a specially adapted business jet (Aérospatiale SN 601 Corvette), rigged with nose, belly and underwing cameras, along with a helicopter to capture the taxiing. These cameras are operated remotely by the crew inside the chase aircraft, although they require some significant gyro stabilization — camera shake is a definite possibility when you’re travelling at 300 mph.
In reality, the $75,000 figure is probably a wild underestimation, as this only includes the cost of flying the A380s and the photographic planes, with nothing set aside for paying the photographers anything. Of course, it would have been possible to create a poor substitute for these pictures using CGI, but I suspect that Airbus considers it money well spent, as the captured images really do show off the new jetliners at their best.