Final ever Airbus A380 is assembled in France

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(CNN) – The Airbus A380 is a great beast made up of four million parts from 30 different countries. It is the largest passenger aircraft in the world and its era is almost over.

Initial assembly of the final superjumbo was recently completed after it was announced in 2019 that European aircraft manufacturers would be discontinuing the aircraft.

The aircraft was discovered by the freelance photographer Aviation Toulouse (@FrenchPainter) at the Jean-Luc Lagardere plant, a specially built Airbus facility at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in southern France.

Since the superjumbo was first delivered to Singapore Airlines in 2007, more than 240 A380s have rolled off the production line here.

Initial assembly of the final biplane, serial number 272, has been completed and manufacturing station 40 is now out of service.

Now it goes to Station 30, where Anne Galabert, Media Relations Manager at Airbus, tells CNN Travel that the engines will be installed and tests will be carried out on electrical and hydraulic systems, on-board computers, landing gear and moving parts.

“The final tests will be done outdoors,” she says. The controls include calibration of the fuel gauge, cabin pressure, radios, radar, navigation systems and the sealing of the fuel tank. “The aircraft is then prepared for the flight.”

After the engine tests have been carried out, the aircraft will make its first test flight to Hamburg, where the cabin will be installed, equipped and the aircraft will be painted in the livery of the customer: Emirates Airlines.

The last convoy to the final assembly line (FAL) took place in February of this year. Hundreds gathered in the French village of Levignac to see the wings, fuselage sections and horizontal tail unit being transported by truck.

Assembling the A380 is a gigantic task. 1,500 companies are involved in the manufacture of all individual parts, from rivets and screws to seats and engines.

Hull sections came from Hamburg and Saint-Nazaire, France; The horizontal tail unit was manufactured in Cadiz, Spain. and the vertical caudal fin was also made in Hamburg. The pilgrimage of the parts to France took place by road, sea and air.

The Toulouse facility also houses the headquarters and flight test department of the Airbus company, which builds one-way A320s as well as wide-body A330s and A350s.

This A380 is one of eight still to be delivered to Emirates, the jet’s largest customer. Another one is destined for the Japanese airline ANA.

The Airbus A380 was developed for 25 billion US dollars and, with a capacity of up to 853 passengers, is the largest mass-produced civil airliner in history.

It is a painful decision, “said Airbus CEO Tom Enders in February 2019, announcing the decision to discontinue the aircraft.” We have invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources and a lot of sweat in this aircraft. “

Airbus has overestimated the airlines’ appetite for the superjumbo. At the time of the 2019 announcement, it had only delivered 234 vehicles – less than half of the 600 it had predicted when the double-decker was introduced.

Passengers love the A380, but airlines have given it up. Your window to flying in one is closing now that there are many in the camp.

Airlines’ interest had shifted to lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft, and now the pandemic has accelerated the decline of aircraft even further.

Airlines like Lufthansa, Qantas and Air France stopped their superjumbos earlier this year, at a time when the high demand for air travel resulted in many planes flying near empty.Tarmac Aerosave, based in the French city of Tarbes, announced the completion of its first A380 dismantling project in November 2019. Souvenir key rings from the fuselage were a hit with aviation fans.

Howard Slutsken contributed to this report.

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