updated 5/30/2005 11:45:09 AM ET 2005-05-30T15:45:09

European jet-maker Airbus SAS's German chief operating officer has been approved to become the company's next chief executive officer, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed person close to the decision, on Sunday said Gustav Humbert, Airbus' COO and head of programs, will succeed Noel Forgeard to become the company's first non-French chief executive.

The decision was approved by both the Dutch aerospace company European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co., or EADS, which owns 80 percent of Airbus, and co-owner BAE Systems PLC of Great Britain, the newspaper reported.

Forgeard and Thomas Enders, the German head of EADS's defense division, will become co-CEOs of EADS, according to the Journal.

An official announcement of the management changes could come as soon as Wednesday, according to the report.

The decision comes at a crucial time for Airbus as it prepares its new superjumbo A380 freighter, which will be able to carry 341,000 pounds of cargo about 6,400 miles when it enters service in 2008.

It is also in a fierce competition with rival Boeing Co. to win orders for its A350 jet over Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, a fuel-efficient aircraft set to go into production next year.

Airbus and Chicago-based Boeing also may face off before the World Trade Organization to settle disputes over European government aid to Airbus.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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