MAMI – The last-ever produced Airbus A380 aircraft took off on its first test flight in Toulouse, marking the end of an era for the Super Jumbo.

At 12:54 PM local time (UTC +1), the Airbus A380, MSN 272, took off for its first test flight from Toulouse Blagnac Airport (TLS), France, as the aircraft (temporarily registered as F-WWSH) is being prepared for delivery to Emirates (EK), becoming its 118th double-decker.

The airline, the type’s largest customer, is currently awaiting the delivery of the final five A380s, including MSN 272. The latest delivery of the type for EK took place in mid-December 2020. According to Airbus Orders & Deliveries data, EK has 123 Airbus A380 aircraft on order, with a total of 251 A380 aircraft being delivered.

The Last Super Jumbo

While airlines such as EK, British Airways (BA), and Qantas (QF) will fly the double-decker on certain routes, this would be the last A380 ever made, as Airbus and EK announced on February 14, 2019, that the carrier would reduce its A380 backlog by 39 aircraft.

Airbus had also stated at the time that the development of its Superjumbo would end in 2021 due to a lack of substantial backlog, with no basis to continue production. The shrink in the A380’s backlog was also sped up by the pandemic.

A number of operators of the jet, including Air France (AF) and Lufthansa (LH) made the decision to retire their A380s in 2020 as a result of the ongoing uncertainty regarding international travel. In addition, Thai Airways (TG) decided to put its A380 up for sale back in December.

Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

16 Years of the Airbus A380

The first completed A380 rolled out of the Airbus hangar on January 18, 2005. Registered F-WWOW, the type was one of five Airbus Superjumbos used for flight testing and demonstration. Three months later, on April 27, the aircraft took to the skies for the first time, piloted by Airbus Chief Test Pilot Jacques Rosay.

Although the first Airbus A380 entered into service with Singapore Airlines (SQ) in October of 2007, the superjumbo’s development began back in 1988, in an effort to compete with the Boeing 747 and its dominance of the large aircraft long-haul market.

Since the production start of the type, affectionately known as the flying whale, close to 300 Arbus convoys have paraded through the rural town of Levignac, France, carrying parts from the company’s production facilities located in Saint-Nazaire, France, to the final assembly line.

Here’s to the last-built giant in the sky.

Featured Image: Aviation Toulouse via Twitter