AEROSCOPIA - A History of Airbus

Background:

In January 2015, the Aeroscopia was opened to the public in Toulouse. The museum is located on the North-East side of the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, near the Airbus A380 production factory.

Airbus Industries has been based in Toulouse since its formation in 1969, and every Airbus model has been produced here since the prototype Airbus A300 took its first flight in 1974. Whilst the European aircraft manufacturer has parts and planes built also in Broughton (Wales, UK), Hamburg (Germany) and Seville (Spain)- the main base of the company is here in Toulouse- which had previously been home to other French aircraft manufacturers Sud-Aviation and Aerospatiale, both of whom became part of the French Airbus operations.

Entry and Experiences:

The Aeroscopia itself costs €14 to enter for an adult. Children under the age of six can enter for FREE and there is a reduced entry of €11 for selected groups that can include: Seniors, Students, Minors (6-16 years old), disabled individuals and large groups.

For an extra €3 you can also get either a guided tour of the Aeroscopia or an audio guide.

The museum also offers Airbus Factory tours which run 90 minute tours in English or French which do show you the factories where airliners like the Airbus A320, A380 or A350 are built for customers all over the world. This tour is €15.50 for an adult and €13 for someone who is valid for a reduced cost (same as mentioned above).

It is important to notice that due to privacy and consent laws regarding the customers of these new aircraft- photographs are not allowed on the Airbus Factory tour.

Booking both a Factory Tour and Aerocopia visit in one go online or at the museum can be combined to a single €24 ticket, which would save an adult paying the full rate a total of: €5.50.

Aeroscopia Aircraft:

The museum has a growing collection of planes, some donated by Airbus themselves. They host a number of French built aircraft both civil and military (as well as some US, German and British aircraft) that in some way link to Airbus or their predecessor companies.

One of the most recognisable aircraft in the world is the BAC-Aerospatiale collaboration which resulted in the only successful Super Sonic Transport (SST) the CONCORDE.

Two aircraft reside here at the Aeroscopia. Airframes F-WTSB (201) and F-BVFC (209). Concorde 201 was a French built development aircraft that clocked up 909 flight hours doing test flights from 1973 to 1985 allowing for the Air France operated production models to be given their airworthiness certification by French Aviation Authorities. This aircraft is located inside the Aeroscopia hanger and the public can enter the aircraft to view inside the cabin and see the flight deck through a glass panel, she is painted up in a special Aeroscopia livery adorned also with the corporate logos for Aerospatiale and BAC. She did wear the Air France livery for many years (and a special Concorde 20th Anniversary livery), but never entered airline service. Meanwhile Concorde 209 was operated by Air France from August 1976 until the retirement of the fleet in June 2003. This aircraft is located on one of the two external viewing areas at the Aeroscopia and its cabin is not open to the public. This aircraft was stranded in New York at the JFK Airport for three months in the aftermath of the Paris crash involving one of its sisterships (Concorde 203/F-BTSC).

Outside the Aeroscopia are three prototype Airbus planes which were donated in 2017 to the young museum. The aircraft are the Airbus A380-800 (F-WXXL/MSN004), the first Airbus A320-100 built (F-WWAI/MSN001) which is now also the first complete A320 aircraft to be preserved in a museum, and Airbus A340-600 prototype (F-WWCA/MSN360) which had spent two years stored in Spain before coming back to Toulouse, this is the only preserved A340 aircraft too, with many of this type heading for scrap yards. The Airbus A380 prototype is being converted into a museum exhibit for entry (should be opening in the Spring of 2020), for now the A320 and A340-600 remain solely for external viewing only.

Prototype Airbus A380 (F-WXXL) on the apron will become an open exhibit in mid-2020
PHOTOGRAPH BY Jett Tyler
Sud-Aviation Carravelle (F-BTOE/MSN280)
PHOTOGRAPH BY Jett Tyler

Alongside the preserved Air France Concorde at the Aeroscopia's entrance are two more aircraft, an Airbus A400M "Grizzly" prototype and a Sud-Aviation Carravelle (F-BTOE/MSN280) adorned by the classic Air Inter livery. Like the Concorde, the Carravelle interior isn't open to the public, whilst the rear section of the A400M is open and can be entered at the end of the Airbus Factory Tours.

The Austrian Air Force Saab-35 "Draken" fighter jet
PHOTOGRAPH BY Jett Tyler

Inside the main hanger alongside the pre-production Concorde, are a variety of aircraft some of which include an Austrian Air Force Saab-35 "Draken", a silver Messismitt BF-109 which featured in the Battle of Britain film in 1969, a former Pan Am/Sempati Air Airbus A300 (N210PA/MSN238) displayed in the same livery and registration as the original prototype Airbus A300 and a Super Guppy (F-BPPA) which was part of the piston driven "Airbus Skylink" fleet that originally transported Airbus A300/A310 parts from the UK, Spain, Germany and Holland to Toulouse for final assembly.

The Super Guppy fuselage is opened up at its iconic nose section to allow people to get an idea of the size of the aircraft and how big the cargo was on these aircraft. Like the Concorde, the Airbus A300 is open inside allowing people to have a look at the cabin design that has been present on Airbus A300/A310 since the mid 1970s when they entered service. You can view the cockpit, though it is sealed off by a glass panel.

Super Guppy fuselage opened up
PHOTOGRAPH BY Jett Tyler

A small display section offers a more sobering look into the human cost of war in the sky over France and the Toulouse region. A series of displays contain wreckage of British, French, American and German aircraft that crashed or were shot down during the German occupation of France (1940-1944). A reminder that their ultimate sacrifices in the war won't be forgotten!

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Jett Tyler