The first two Airbus A380s to enter service are being taken apart at Tarbes Lourdes airport in France. A photo released this week shows MSN003 and MSN005 with gaping holes and no engines as the salvage team work to remove the valuable parts from the planes.
The two very first Airbus A380s to go into commercial service are being taken apart, piece by piece. Denoted as MSN003 and MSN005, they have been mothballed in France since their leases came to an end and are now being dismantled.
The two Airbus A380s, previously operated by Singapore Airlines, are well on their way to becoming nothing more than the sum of their parts, a new photo has revealed this week. If you’re an avgeek and a lover of the biggest plane in the world, I have to warn you that this post contains graphic images.
The first A380s
The very first A380 to enter into service, MSN003, was delivered to launch customer Singapore Airlines on October 15th, 2007. Entering into service on October 25th the same year, the aircraft flew between Singapore and Sydney registered as 9V-SKA.
Shortly after this, in January 2008, MSN005 arrived with Singapore too, and was registered as 9V-SKB. These were the very first A380s out of the factory, with MSN 001, 002 and 004 being Airbus test aircraft.
As we all know, the story of the A380 didn’t have the happy ending we all hoped for. Despite a lot of passenger and avgeek love for the aircraft, airlines just couldn’t make it work. Airbus announced the scrappage of the project, ironically, on Valentine’s Day this year, although they have also said they’ll continue to support it for as long as it flies.
A sad goodbye
Upon completion of their leasing period, both MSN003 and MSN005 were repainted in all white and flow to Tarbes in southern France to be stored. Despite their leasing company attempting to find new customers for the aircraft, nobody wanted the gentle giants, and so they were earmarked for scrapping.
Aviation Toulouse shared a heartbreaking photo of the two aircraft at Tarbes Lourdes airport in France. Here, we can see the engines stripped out and various other components missing, even a door.
— Aviation Toulouse (@Frenchpainter) May 4, 2019
While it’s almost tear-jerking to an avgeek to see these two big beauties in pieces, one has to take a small comfort in the fact that they will live on in other A380s now. Much like an organ donor, these planes being recycled will mean more parts for those that remain flying, to keep them flying for now.
Why scrap the A380?
You’d think that a big, well made and not particularly old aircraft such as these two would be worth far more intact than in pieces, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
These two aircraft were two of four owned by the investment firm the Dr. Peters group in Germany. Having been leased to Singapore Airlines for ten years, the airline returned them to Dr. Peters at the end of the leasing period. In total, Singapore Airlines returned four of the jets to the lessor.
All four were parked at Lourdes – Tarbes airport for months while the lessor attempted to find a new customer. Hi Fly took on one, which it now wet leases to airlines who have a sudden requirement for a large aircraft. However, the other three proved impossible to lease.
Seeing as how aircraft on the ground only lose money, Dr. Peters took the decision to scrap two of them for parts. TARMAC Aerosave were tasked with the job, which began in earnest in December, according to Aero Telegraph.
While it’s a pity to see A380’s MSN003 and 005 being dismantled, its understandable selling them is hard. They are both heavier and built to older specs that makes them less attractive: pic.twitter.com/dgc42cWa6r
— A380 fanclub (@a380fanclub) June 5, 2018
For the time being, the valuable engines of the A380s are being leased to makers Rolls Royce for an estimated $480,000 a month per aircraft, with a sale expected in 2020 according to Flight Global. Overall, Dr. Peters hopes to generate around $80m per aircraft from the sale of the parts and engines. They’ve called this an ‘excellent achievement’, reporting an expected return on investment of between 145-155%