MIAMI – The last shipment of outside parts for the Airbus A380 super jumbo has made its way from a pre-assembly plant in Saint-Nazaire, France, to the Airbus facility in Toulouse.
For residents of the sleepy little town of Levignac, France, watching trucks carrying massive chunks of fuselage for the worlds largest airliner squeeze down the town streets out their front windows has been commonplace for the last 16 years.
The Last of 300+ Convoys
Since production on the flying whale began in 2004, nearly 300 of these convoys have paraded through the rural town. Levignac, situated just outside of Toulouse, lies on the Itinéraire à Grand Gabarit – a special network of road and waterways constructed specifically for the purpose of transporting A380 parts.
Residents of the town have expressed how much it has meant to them to play a role in the production of the jet. Christiane Inard, who has lived in Levignac since the program began, said “It has made the region live, together with all the villages round here and the people who built it. It’s magnificent”
End of the Road for the A380
The end of production for the A380 scheduled for 2021 comes just 14 years after the type first entered service with Singapore Airlines (SQ). While the super jumbo itself is a spectacle to behold, the order books, where things really matter, have been rather lackluster since the project was announced.
The weak sales numbers were mostly brought about by the comparative inefficiency of the four engine beast next to smaller long haul competitors such as the Boeing 787, or Airbus’ own A350.
Although it did not match the raging success of the Airbus narrow body offering of the A320 series, the 380 certainly left its mark on the company and helped to shape it into the force Airbus is today. “We are all convinced that Airbus would not be what it is today without the A380,” says Airbus programs head Philippe Mhun.
Featured image: Airbus