A photo circulating on Twitter shows the sad fate of the first Airbus A380 to be retired from the Air France fleet. In February, the aircraft was flown to Knock Airport in Northwest Ireland, having last flown for the airline on December 31st, 2019.
Earlier this year, Air France revealed that it would be retiring its entire Airbus A380 fleet immediately as it dealt with the COVID-19 impact on aviation. However, the aircraft type was already on its way out from the fleet before the crisis started, with F-HPJB leading the way a year ago. One year on from its final flight with the airline, the aircraft is now in a much different state.
Remarkably, the fuselage of the first Air France Airbus A380 to be retired appears to be still intact. However, that’s about all that remains attached to the aircraft. Photos show that many vital parts have already been salvaged from the aircraft, likely to be used as spares on other aircraft.
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The aircraft sits jacked up on breeze blocks where its landing gear has been removed. Its vertical stabilizer lays on the ground, covering what appears to be wingtips and perhaps flaps. Some slides have been removed from underneath the upper emergency exits, and all of the aircraft’s engines have been removed.
🇫🇷 L’Airbus A380, immatriculé F-HPJB, ex Air -France est en cours de démantèlement à Knock en Irlande.
📷 unknow pic.twitter.com/2xnZsNrjX3
— air plus news (@airplusnews) December 29, 2020
The aircraft arrived in Knock after its final flight on February 20th. A photo shared on Twitter by aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth on July 14th suggests that the aircraft still had most components except its engines in mid-July. Meanwhile, satellite images from Google Earth taken at the start of November also appear to show the aircraft mostly intact.
— Andreas Spaeth (@SpaethFlies) July 14, 2020
Retiring the giant of the skies
As mentioned, earlier this year Air France decided to withdraw the Airbus A380 from use immediately. It had been intended that the fleet of ten aircraft would be retired from the airline by the end of 2022. Given that the airline didn’t foresee a need for the aircraft before they would leave the fleet, it didn’t make sense to keep them sitting around.
Today, the fleet is scattered at various sites, including the Spanish aircraft graveyard Teruel and in Tarbes. However, it may not be the end of the line for the giant of the skies just yet. While the second hand Airbus A380 market never took off, there is hope that some former Air France A380s could find a buyer.
This month, Simple Flying revealed that four of the French flag carrier’s former fleet are currently available for operating lease or sale. These aircraft at between six and ten years old and are owned by the Dr. Peters Group.
Are you sad to see the current state of Air France’s first Airbus A380 to be retired? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!