Just a few more photos from inside the final assembly building at Toulouse…
What great fun to be at the factory and see the planes from so many carriers all in one place. And there were plenty to be seen. Check out some of these beauties:
This is the plane we were touring in all day:
Not all the planes on the ground were Airbus, but they were still cool:
Some of the bigger birds on display:
Of course, the main focus of the visit to Toulouse was plane spotting of a different kind. We were there to tour the A380 final assembly line. We did, and it was amazing. More stories, video and photos from that soon.
It has been a few days since my last post about the A380 factory tour and most of faculties have finally returned. You’ve seen many of the pictures already but I also have some video shot inside the factory with Richard Carcaillet, the Director of Product Marketing for the A380. He talks about some of the details on the final assembly, demand for the A380 and assembly time, as well as the value proposition for the aircraft.
There are also a couple videos from inside the mock-up center. Airbus uses the facility to show off interior design options to customers from seating arrangements to overhead bins to trim details. I never thought I’d see eleven different cabin configurations on a single plane but there they were in the A380 mock-up. Very cool stuff, though sadly no photos allowed inside the mock-ups. Still pretty interesting.
When showing up to a party is is a good idea to make a grand first impression, right? So what about buzzing the field at Toulouse? I like it.
Our arrival at the Airbus facility was a spectacular event, highlighted by the expert fly-by executed by the first officer on our Condor air 757-300. Sitting in the middle of the plane, I knew that we were low to the field and I knew pretty early on that we were long on the approach. But just now, flying back to Los Angeles, I have had a chance to view a video taken from the cockpit and know just how close we were.
The voice of the computer counts down the approach. Fifty. Forty. Thirty. Twenty!
That’s right…Twenty. Feet, I think. That’s pretty ridiculous. And we cruised pretty much the length of the runway at that altitude.
And then the shouts from back in the cabin – sheer excitement as we cruise on down the field so close, yet so very far away from touching down. Finally, at the end of the runway, an ominous “six hundred remaining” is heard as the end of the runway is clearly visible and we’re very clearly still not on the ground. And then the thrust of the engines and only clouds and sky visible through the cockpit window as we climbed out and around for our actual landing.
Yeah, we made one hell of a first impression!
The second movie here is of the actual landing. Mostly the same except that we actually bothered to stop that time around. Still plenty of excitement from the cabin.
First stop on the trip was Oslo to pick up a few more participants and to meet the folks from SAS who were kind enough to host us. They provided all the traditional Norwegian fare for us, including snow on arrival. Walking off the plane in a Hawaiian shirt and making a snow ball was quite enjoyable.
There was traditional music and dance:
And there were a bunch of displays set up around the hangar. The Air Force had a demo of their med-evac procedures on display and we were able to walk around one of the planes, including in the engine cowls and the landing gear areas. Very cool stuff.
There was a presentation from the folks at SAS about their airline and the Euro Bonus program as well as two singing performances by one of the flight attendants, including one where the wing of the plane was used as the stage. Video of that should be forthcoming shortly.
And then there was the biggest surprise of the morning’s events. The main organizer, Tommy, actually got to leave the plane via the evacuation slide:
Some others hopped on afterwards, but I am quite certain it wasn’t the same.
And then our stay in Oslo was complete. It was off to the de-icing pad and our departure for Toulouse. Another exciting flight and an even more exciting arrival!
The A380 is simply huge. There is no other way to describe it. And the reception we received from the folks at Airbus and the tour that they provided was huge as well.
I wrote the above more than 5 hours ago in an attempt to be witty, smart and informative. In reality what I am is drunk and exhausted. Therefore there will be no more text in this post. Look at the pretty pictures and enjoy. Hopefully I’ll get more than 3 hours of sleep tonight (unlike the last three) and there will be more coherence in the morning.