Airbus SAS (English pronunciation: /?rb?s/, French: [bys] ( listen), German: [b?s], Spanish: [airus]) is an aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of EADS, a European aerospace company. Based in Blagnac, France, a suburb of Toulouse,[3][4] and with significant activity across Europe, the company produces approximately half of the world's jet airliners.[citation needed] Airbus began as a consortium of aerospace manufacturers, Airbus Industrie. Consolidation of European defence and aerospace companies in 1999 and 2000 allowed the establishment of a simplified joint-stock company in 2001, owned by EADS (80%) and BAE Systems (20%). After a protracted sales process BAE sold its shareholding to EADS on 13 October 2006.[5] Airbus employs around 63,000 people at sixteen sites in four European Union countries: France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain. Final assembly production is based at Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; Seville, Spain; and, since 2009, Tianjin, China.[6] Airbus has subsidiaries in the United States, Japan, China and India. The company produced and markets the first commercially viable fly-by-wire airliner, the Airbus A320,[7][8] and the world's largest airliner, the A380.Airbus Industrie began as a consortium of European aviation firms to compete with American companies such as Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Lockheed.[9] While many European aircraft were innovative, even the most successful had small production runs.[10] In 1991, Jean Pierson, then CEO and Managing Director of Airbus Industrie, described a number of factors which explained the dominant position of American aircraft manufacturers: the land mass of the United States made air transport the favoured mode of travel; a 1942 Anglo-American agreement entrusted transport aircraft production to the US; and World War II had left America with "a profitable, vigorous, powerful and structured aeronautical industry."[10] "For the purpose of strengthening European co-operation in the field of aviation technology and thereby promoting economic and technological progress in Europe, to take appropriate measures for the joint development and production of an airbus." Airbus Mission Statement[11] In the mid-1960s, tentative negotiations commenced regarding a European collaborative approach. Individual airc aft companies had already envisaged such a requirement; in 1959 Hawker Siddeley had advertised an "Airbus" version of the Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosy,[12] which would "be able to lift as many as 126 passengers on ultra short routes at a direct operating cost of 2d. per seat mile."[13] However, European aircraft manufacturers were aware of the risks of such a development and began to accept, along with their governments, that collaboration was required to develop such an aircraft and to compete with the more powerful US manufacturers. At the 1965 Paris Air Show major European airlines informally discussed their requirements for a new "airbus" capable of transporting 100 or more passengers over short to medium distances at a low cost.[11] The same year Hawker Siddeley (at the urging of the UK government) teamed with Breguet and Nord to study airbus designs. The Hawker Siddeley/Breguet/Nord group's HBN 100 became the basis for the continuation of the project. By 1966 the partners were Sud Aviation, later Aerospatiale (France), Arbeitsgemeinschaft Airbus, later Deutsche Airbus (Germany) and Hawker Siddeley (UK).[11] A request for funding was made to the three governments in October 1966.[11] On 25 July 1967 the three governments agreed to proceed with the proposal. In the two years following this agreement, both the British and French governments expressed doubts about the project. The MoU had stated that 75 orders must be achieved by 31 July 1968. The French government threatened to withdraw from the project due to the concern over funding development of the Airbus A300, Concorde and the Dassault Mercure concurrently, but was persuaded otherwise.[14] Having announced its concern at the A300B proposal in December 1968, and fearing it would not recoup its investment due to lack of sales, the British government announced its withdrawal on 10 April 1969.[11][15] Germany took this opportunity to increase its share of the project to 50%.[14] Given the participation by Hawker Siddeley up to that point, France and Germany were reluctant to take over its wing design. Thus the British company was allowed to continue as a privileged subcontractor.[10] Hawker Siddeley invested GB?35 million in tooling and, requiring more capital, received a GB?35 million loan from the German government.[