Visit to Airbus

Programs for this blog post

Aerospace Engineering

Authored By:

Kyle Rader

Yesterday, we had an awesome afternoon of visits, revolving around both Airbus and historical airplanes.  This day, although going backwards in time, allowed us to see quite a large chunk of the aviation timeline, from World War I up through the most cutting-edge technology.

We began the afternoon viewing the manufacturing at Airbus and one of the most modern airplanes, the A350.  Our Airbus tour allowed us to view a variety of different locations, narrated by a very knowledgeable tour guide.  The most impressive part was the final assembly building of the A350.  On the viewing platform, we were able to see the assembly of the full airplane, which was both complicated and impressive.  Huge gantries and scaffolding supported structures used to both hoist parts into place and provide working surfaces for the employees.  Since all of the parts of the airplanes are made in many different locations all throughout Europe, we saw huge pieces of the airplanes waiting for installation.  Although the airplane we saw being made was approaching the end of its assembly process, there were a number of parts queued up and being prepared in parallel, including the wings for the next plane.  It definitely was quite a sight to see an airplane's wings just sitting there not attached to anything at all!

The tour continued with views and explanations of different locations, including the painting facility and assembly locations of other types of Airbus airplanes.  We also were able to see one of the Beluga transport airplanes used to shuttle pieces of the airplane (fuselage, wings, etc.) from their manufacturing location to the final assembly in Toulouse.  Overall, it was really impressive to see the entire operation and all of the logistics involved.  It definitely puts into perspective the amount of work that goes into building a plane - not that I ever thought it was simple, but seeing it in person really emphasizes the complexity!

After visiting Airbus, we travelled back in time to Old Wings Toulouse, a mostly outdoor collection of aircraft of the past, many with a military background.  We were led by a former military serviceman who told us the history behind a number of airplanes.  Aside from seeing up close the different vehicles, we were also able to enter a few of them, including sitting in the cockpit of an old fighter plane as well as a double-decker transport plane.  We also toured the hangar where a few additional aircraft are being restored by volunteers.  It was amazing to see how many parts there are to a disassembled, mid-restoration airplane!

Overall, it was quite an interesting day, and really neat to see the range of aviation history, from the very historic to the cutting-edge in technology.  In the coming days, we are sure to see even more aircraft to further our understanding of the aerospace industry!