Manila Bulletin

Paris mu­seum gets an Air­bus A380 su­per­jumbo

- The Air­bus A380 su­per­jumbo on flight.

PARIS (Reuters) – France hon­ored the A380 su­per­jumbo with a place in its na­tional aero­space mu­seum on Tues­day, grant­ing it equal sta­tus with the Boe­ing 747 even as ques­tions pile up over the fu­ture of the in­dus­try's big­gest jets.

The A380 test plane, the fourth to be built and the sec­ond to ac­tu­ally fly in 2005, flew to Le Bour­get near Paris from Toulouse with 50 tech­ni­cians who will spend months adapt­ing it for pub­lic view.

It is the first time Air­bus has trans­ferred one of its test planes to a mu­seum and a vic­tory for cu­ra­tors who for years have cov­eted the world's largest jet­liner, de­signed to carry up to 853 peo­ple in all-econ­omy seat­ing or 544 in stan­dard lay­out.

The plane will see out its re­tire­ment along­side a vin­tage 747 once flown by Air France and is ex­pected to be­come a pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion when it goes on dis­play in 2018.

But af­ter fewer than 10 years in ser­vice, the A380's dou­ble-decker de­sign is less suc­cess­ful com­mer­cially than de­sign­ers hoped.

Air France re­cently swapped its re­main­ing or­der for two A380s for three smaller Air­bus A350s, sym­bol­iz­ing the shift in de­mand to a new gen­er­a­tion of light­weight jets.

Air­bus in­sists the A380 still has a fu­ture and re­jects any link be­tween the ex­hibit and the A380's com­mer­cial for­tunes. Boe­ing has also put three of its 787 Dream­lin­ers in mu­se­ums.

"Mu­se­ums are not just about pre­serv­ing the past; they are also a win­dow on the fu­ture," said Jac­ques Rocca, pres­i­dent of the Air­itage as­so­ci­a­tion, set up to pre­serve Air­bus arte­facts.

In the 1990s, Air­bus's vi­sion of the fu­ture was a su­per-ca­pac­ity air­liner able to rev­o­lu­tionise air travel and dis­place the prof­itable 747 by link­ing the world's largest travel hubs.

Boe­ing dis­agreed and later de­vel­oped the smaller 787, though it hedged its bets by up­dat­ing the 747, with dis­ap­point­ing re­sults.

Since 2005, the A380 su­per­jumbo has been a show-stop­per at events like the Paris Air­show, yards from the aero­space mu­seum at Le Bour­get. Air­bus and Dubai's Emi­rates, the largest A380 op­er­a­tor, say its roomy cabin is a hit with pas­sen­gers.

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