A Big, Big Nose Job! Workers inspect the nose section of an A380 under construction at St. Nazaire, on FrancesAtlantic coast. Sections of the fuselage are built at this factory, then shipped by sea, river, and highway for final assembly in Toulouse.
Flying Beluga In Stade, Germany, an A380 tailfin is loaded onto atransport plane. The plane, nicknamed the Beluga because of its bulbous profile, can accommodate the 24.1-meter-high tailfin, which is longer than the wing of a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320. But other A380 parts are too big and have to be shipped by land or sea.
Winging it An A380 wing under construction at an Airbusfactory in Broughton, North Wales. A new factoryhad to be built to accommodate the 46-meter-long wing, which is taller than a nine-story building.
A mega plane A ferry carries an A380 wing down the River Dee from the Broughton wing factory. Whats thatAFON DYFRDWY painted on the side of the boat - - a serial number? No, its Welsh for "River Dee!
Wings over water!With a pair of A380 wings stowed in its hold, a ferry steamstoward the mouth of the Garonne River in France, enroutefrom Wales. The oceangoing ferry, christened the Ville de Bordeaux, was custom-built for Airbus at a Chinese shipyard.
Historic Passage A barge carrying an A380 wing passes under the 19th-century Pont de Pierre on the Garonne River in Bordeaux,France. The pilings of the historic bridge were reinforced toguard against collisions with barges carrying pieces of the megaplane.
Wide Load Ahead!Custom-built flatbed trucks ferry A380 parts from Bordeaux to Toulouse. Airbus and the French government split the cost of widening and straightening this highway, which isclosed to traffic several nights a month so the convoys can pass.
TouchdownSixteen Football Fields could fit inside the A380 assemblyplant in Toulouse. Five test aircraft have already been built here, and construction is under way on A380s to bedelivered by the end of this year to Singapore Airlines, the first customer.
Roll them in!Workers help roll a chunk of A380 fuselage into place at the Toulouse assembly plant. Note thethree levels inside the fuselage: Two passenger decks, with a cargo hold at the bottom.
Snap then together!O.K., its a little harder than putting together a Lego toy, butwith the wings and fuselage built elsewhere, final assembly in Toulouse takes surprisingly little time. Airbus says it expects to build four A380s per month after production ramps up next year.
Roll them out A finished A380, one of five test aircraft, being towed onto a runway at Toulouse. It will be flownto another Airbus facility in Hamburg, Germany, for painting and interior outfitting.
Paint jobWorkers in Hamburg paint the exterior of an A380.What will the megaplanes interior look like? Thats a secret, closely guarded by Airbus and the carriers that will start flying the plane next year.
Take off! An A380 heads skyward at the Asian Aerospace air show in Singapore in February. The plane,though painted with the livery of launch customerSingapore Airlines, is actually one of several test models.
Honestly...Can life get more complex than this?