Paris museum gets an Airbus A380 superjumbo

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
February 15, 2017News

France honored the A380 superjumbo with a place in its national aerospace museum on Tuesday (February 14), granting it equal status with the Boeing 747 even as questions pile up over the future of the industry’s biggest jets.

The A380 test plane is the fourth to be built and the second to actually fly in 2005.

It flew to Le Bourget near Paris from Toulouse with 50 technicians who will spend months adapting it for public view.

It is the first time Airbus has transferred one of its test planes to a museum and a victory for curators who for years have coveted the world’s largest jetliner, designed to carry up to 853 people in all-economy seating or 544 in standard layout.

The plane will see out its retirement alongside a vintage 747 once flown by Air France and is expected to become a popular tourist attraction when it goes on display in 2018.

“It’s a prototype, it’s the biggest plane in the world, it’s secure, comfortable mass transport, it’s a test plane, which means that the museum brings in a plane of the 21st century,” said the aerospace museum’s director Catherine Maunoury, after disembarking from the plane’s last flight from Toulouse.

The test plane’s pilot, Hugues Van der Stichel, said all the A380’s mechanics bade farewell from the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse.

“They were sad to see it leave, certainly. It’s a healthy feeling, it’s the attachment to the project,” Van der Stichel said.

Flight engineer leader Gerard Desbois said now it was time to share the test plane with the public.

“It is an airplane that has finished its work life as a prototype. Rather than dismantling it, it is brought here to the Aerospace Museum in Le Bourget so that it has a second life, it continues to be seen and visited, given a life by the young, not air travellers, but the world,” he said.

But after fewer than 10 years in service, the A380’s double-decker design is less successful commercially than designers hoped.

Air France recently swapped its remaining order for two A380s for three smaller Airbus A350s, symbolising the shift in demand to a new generation of lightweight jets.

Airbus insists the A380 still has a future and rejects any link between the exhibit and the A380’s commercial fortunes. Boeing has also put three of its 787 Dreamliners in museums.

Since 2005, the A380 superjumbo has been a show-stopper at events like the Paris Airshow, yards from the aerospace museum at Le Bourget.


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