The last Airbus A380 is assembled in France


(CNN) – A magnificent beast made up of four million parts from 30 different countries, the Airbus A380 is the largest airliner in the world and its era is almost over. Initial assembly was recently completed on the last superjumbo in history, after it was announced in 2019 that European aircraft manufacturers were shutting down the plane.

The craft was spotted by the independent photographer Aviation Toulouse (@FrenchPainter) at the Jean-Luc Lagardère factory, a specially built Airbus factory at Toulouse-Blagnac airport in the south of France.

Since the superjumbo’s first delivery to Singapore Airlines in 2007, more than 240 A380s have left the line here.

Initial assembly of the last double-decker jet, serial number 272, appears to have been completed with manufacturing station 40 now out of work.

There are still many additions to be made, with fittings, accessories and livery painting still to be done.

The last convoy to the Final Assembly Line (FAL) took place in February this year, hundreds of people moved to the French village of Lévignac to see the wings, fuselage sections and horizontal tail being carried by truck.

Assembling the A380 is a mammoth task, with 1,500 companies involved in manufacturing all of the individual parts, from rivets and bolts, to seats and engines.

The fuselage sections were from Hamburg, Germany, and Saint-Nazaire, France; the horizontal tail was manufactured in Cadiz, Spain; and the vertical fin was also made in Hamburg. The pilgrimage of the parties to France was made by road, sea and air.

The Toulouse plant is also the site of the Airbus head office and the flight test department, and where single-aisle A320s and wide-body A330s and A350s are built.

This A380 is one of eight still scheduled for delivery to Emirates, the aircraft’s largest customer, and another is still for Japanese carrier ANA.

The Airbus A380 was developed at a cost of $ 25 billion and, with a capacity of 853 passengers, it is the largest mass-produced civilian airliner in history.

It’s a painful decision, ”Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in February 2019, announcing the decision to stop the plane. We put a lot of effort, a lot of resources and a lot of sweat on this plane. ”

Airbus overestimated airlines’ appetite for the superjumbo. At the time of the 2019 announcement, it had delivered just 234 of the contraption – less than a quarter of the 1,200 it predicted when the double-decker was introduced.

Passengers love the A380, but airlines have given it up. Your window to fly in is closing now that many are in stock.

Airlines’ interest has shifted to lighter, more fuel-efficient devices and now the pandemic has accelerated the demise of planes even further.

Airlines such as Lufthansa, Qantas and Air France grounded their superjumbos earlier this year, at a time when the sharp drop in demand for air travel meant that many planes were flying near empty.

Tarmac Aerosave, based in the French town of Tarbes, announced the completion of its first A380 dismantling project in November 2019. Souvenir key chains made from the fuselage were a hit with aviation fans.

CNN has reached out to Airbus for comment on this story.

Howard Slutsken contributed to this report.


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