Watching an Airbus A380 Roll Through a Tiny French Village

Oct 12, 2016

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I’m currently in Toulouse, France for this week’s Airbus event and Singapore Airlines A350 delivery. And, if that wasn’t already exciting enough, just last night, a much-anticipated Airbus A380 convoy made its way through a small French town en-route to Toulouse — a once-in-a-lifetime event for many aviation fans. So, of course I got to see it, right? Nope. By the time I got confirmation of the below schedule, it was too late to change my flight. I arrived at TLS just hours after the plane completed its journey to the airport.

The A380's journey to Toulouse.
The A380’s journey to Toulouse.

Fortunately, you can avoid making the same mistake — you can check the status of the next A380 convoy here, and you can even subscribe for updates.

So, why couldn’t I make it to TLS in time? Here are the flights I took — booked in United economy and upgraded to BusinessFirst with a Global Premier Upgrade:

The flights I ended up taking to Toulouse.
The flights I ended up taking to Toulouse.

If I were to leave a day earlier, instead, my best option would have been a lot more expensive — and in coach:

Very limited availability on Monday’s flights to TLS.

That said, I did manage to catch a glimpse of the Singapore A350 (with 10,000 livery) as soon as I landed in Toulouse:

Singapore Airlines' latest A350 at Toulouse.
Singapore Airlines’ latest A350 at Toulouse.

And, thanks to a very generous reader, you don’t need to miss out on the A380 convoy — even though I didn’t make it to Toulouse in time. TPG reader Arnaud shared his A380 convoy photos, captured a few months ago. The convoy usually passes through the town of Gimont during the late evening hours. The procession Arnaud caught began with an A380 wing.

First up, one of the A380's wings.
First up, one of the A380’s wings.

The trucks carrying these components are both wide and long, so turns are extremely difficult to maneuver, if not impossible. For example, rather than circle the roundabout below, the convoy just drives straight through.

Traveling through a roundabout.
Traveling through a roundabout.

Another wing section followed — these trucks really help put the A380’s size into perspective.

Another A380 section follows.
Another A380 section follows.

Then, Arnaud caught the horizontal tail plane.

A tail section follows.
A tail section follows.

A few minutes later, the nose/cockpit and forward fuselage appeared.

Next up, the fuselage makes an appearance.
Finally, the fuselage makes an appearance.

Followed by the center fuselage, covered in tarps.

And another A380 fuselage section.
An A380 center fuselage section.

This really is an entire A380 — carried through French villages on gigantic trucks. An incredible sight!

The same section a few seconds later.
The same section a few seconds later.

Last up was the rear fuselage and tailcone.

And, finally, the tail.
And, finally, the aft fuselage and tailcone.

If you’re heading to Toulouse for an Airbus event scheduled within a day or two of the convoy (like me!), this is a no-brainer, but it could even make sense to make a trip out just to catch the A380 and some Airbus-related attractions, such as the Aeroscopia museum, the Airbus Discovery tour and the Airbus Panoramic tour.

Have you managed to catch an A380 convoy?

All A380 photos by Arnaud B.

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