Emirates’ Penultimate Airbus A380 Flies To The Paint Shop

On Thursday, the penultimate Airbus A380 made its way from the planemaker’s final assembly line in Toulouse to its facilities in Hamburg. Part of Airbus and aviation history, the second-to-last superjumbo ever to be built will now receive its livery in the 42.200 m² A380 dedicated paintshop before joining the Emirates fleet.

Emirates, Airbus A380, Retirement
Emirates’ penultimate A380 has left Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Almost the end for the A380 in Toulouse

As Airbus begins to wrap up production of its superjumbo, two-storied quadjet, Toulouse has started waving goodbye to the last to leave the final assembly facilities. The penultimate A380 to be built was caught on camera as it took off for the manufacturer’s paintshop in Hamburg yesterday morning.

Aviation enthusiast and photographer Clément Alloing, based at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, managed to snap some shots of the not-so-small piece of airplane history as it made a go-around when leaving the south of France.

MSN 271 has been registered as A6-EVR, and once she is all-liveried, as is no surprise to anyone who has been following the storyline of the A380, she will head to Dubai and the Emirates fleet.

The second-to-last of its kind to be completed took off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS) at 11:16 on Thursday, February 11th. After heading towards the Atlantic and making a little roundabout, it made north towards Germany. Following three hours and 52 minutes in the air, it landed at Hamburg Finkenverder Airport (XFW) at 15:09 local time.

Flight path penultimate A380
The rarer and rarer bird flew over France and all the way to the north of Germany. Flight data: RadarBox.com

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What’s in Toulouse and Hamburg?

Airbus has nine final assembly lines (FALs) in five locations. Toulouse houses a FAL for the narrowbody A320 family, a responsibility it shares with Hamburg in Germany, Tianjin in China, and Mobile, Alabama, in the US. The Mobile plant also hosts a FAL for the A220, as do the facilities in Mirabel, Canada.

However, Toulouse is the only location where Airbus completes the construction of its widebodies. As production of the A380 is now coming to an end, this means there will be two remaining twin-aisle FALs; one for the A330 and one for the A350.

Toulouse also became the site of Airbus’ initial FAL, putting together the world’s first twinjet widebody airliner, the A300, and the A310, over 40 years ago. Meanwhile, the Airbus A380 paintshop in Hamburg, with a surface of 42.200 m², was constructed in 2004.

A380 united for wildlife livery
Emirates has adorned several of its A380s with special liveries, such as the United for Wildlife against illegal wildlife trade. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Paintshop special assignments

Over the years, the Hamburg paintshop has been tasked by Emirates to adorn its A380s with special liveries. Many have been related to football as Emirates sponsors several teams from top leagues, such as AC Milan, Real Madrid, and Arsenal.

In 2019, the airline celebrated Emirati Hazza Al Mansouri’s successful mission to space with an astronaut in front of the International Space Station, with the text “The Sky is Only the Beginning.”

Furthermore, the carrier has protested against the illegal wildlife trade, with an eye-catching array of wild animals displayed across a superjumbo fuselage in 2015.

Do you think the final A380 to be built should have a special commemorative livery? Let us know in the comments.