Paris museum gets an Airbus A380 superjumbo
By Tim Hepher
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. Continued...