Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Thai Airways' first A380 (I): visit to the Airbus factory

I attended my first aircraft delivery ceremony this week and I also had the chance to visit an aircraft factory for the first time in my life. Both experiences were simply amazing!

I went to Toulouse to cover the delivery of Thai Airway's first Airbus A380. The Thai carrier has 6 of them on order as it goes ahead with its fleet renewal plan, that wil see all of its Boeing 747s phased out in a period of 5 years from now.

So I went to Toulouse as part of a group of journalists covering the event, not only from industry and trade journals, but also from Thai general media, many of whom had flown to France for the occasion. And it is here that I would like to take the chance to thank both Airbus and Thai Airways for the great organization and hospitality during the visit.

Once at Airbus' facilities we got an overview of the Airbus A380 programme and of Thai Airway's plans for their A380's deployment. The press tour included also a visit to the A380 assembly plant, an amazing building that we were told is the largest single-roof industrial building in Europe, it had been built on a greenfield site in 2004 with the sole purpose of assembling the largest aircraft of the Airbus family.

One of the things that I found most amazing is that far from a noisy and buzzing factory floor, as I was expecting, the factory is a actually a quite place, but not because of lack of activity, during our visit work was going on simultaneously on several airframes, but because the orderly and highly automated way the work is done. For those of you interested in seeing how an Airbus A380 is made, here are some pictures I took during the factory tour. In the next post I will narrate our encounter with Thai's first A380.

The A380's fuselage sections are assembled in Toulouse...

...although the components are being shipped from all over Europe

the nose

the wings

the tail

An A380 being readied for Emirates

the landing gear

View from inside the Airbus factory


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