Test A380s and Other Airbus Planes Headed to Two French Aviation Museums

Feb 10, 2017

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Aviation enthusiasts will be able to tour some of the aircraft that charted Airbus’ direction in modern commercial aviation, as they’ll become a permanent part of two French museum collections. The airframe manufacturer announced it would donate four original test planes as they retire.

The donated test aircraft are the company’s first air-worthy A320, the first A340-600 and two A380 test flyers. Last year, Airbus reconfigured the original A320 MSN1 as a “flight lab,” where the manufacturer worked to test components which would create a “more electrical” aircraft. The reconfigured aircraft was supported by the Clean Sky EU program, which sought to reduce emissions and create cleaner modes of transportation.

During the development of the A380 program, the A380 MSN2 was instrumental in securing the viability of the double-deck aircraft as a long-haul solution. The MSN2 completed one of the aircraft’s longest flights — a 15-hour journey — during the fourth and final early long-flight test, leading to the first aircraft delivery to Singapore Airlines.

The A380 MSN4, cousin to the MSN2, also played an important part in aviation safety history. After the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, the first A340-600 and A380 MSN4 were volunteered to fly in the ash cloud to test the effects of volcanic ash on modern aircraft engines.

The A380 MSN4 will be donated to the Museum of Air and Space in Paris-Le Bourget and is set to arrive by February 14. From there, the aircraft structure and interior will go through a technical refurbishment. The preserved aircraft will house an exhibit on the history of the A380, as well as an overview of the plane’s role as an operational test aircraft. It’s expected to be on display by 2018.

The remaining aircraft — the A320 MSN1, A340-600 MSN360 and A380 MSN2 — will be donated to the Aeroscopia Museum in Toulouse, and they are expected to go on display sometime in 2019.

Featured image courtesy of Airbus.

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