Sad For AvGeeks: Air France A380 Gets Dismantled

Filed Under: Air France/KLM

At one point the Airbus A380 was expected to be the future of aviation, as demand for air travel globally continues to grow (at least pre-pandemic). Despite that, unfortunately there has been little interest among airlines for this plane. The A380 simply offers too much capacity, and airlines would rather buy smaller, fuel efficient, long range aircraft, which offer a lot more flexibility.

A380 production will end soon, and Air France recently became the first airline in the world to retire its entire A380 fleet. Lufthansa also plans to retire all of its A380s, and the fleet will only be reactivated “in the event of an unexpectedly rapid market recovery.” Then Hi-Fly recently retired the world’s first secondhand A380.

As far as other airlines go, the jury is still out on A380 retirements, including at Etihad, Qatar, and Qantas.

What we don’t often think about is what happens after A380s are retired, so here’s a sad reminder of that…

A former Air France A380 gets scrapped

A picture has emerged of a former Air France A380 being dismantled, and it will make just about any aviation geek sad. The A380 with the registration code F-HPJB first joined Air France’s fleet in June 2009. While many A380s that are retired are simply put into storage, this has become one of the first A380s to actually be dismantled in a significant way.

The plane operated its last flight on February 20, 2020, as it flew from Dresden, Germany, to Knock, Ireland, in a flight time of 2hr33min. The plane has been parked there ever since, and has now been scrapped, according to pictures.

Is there any aviation geek who isn’t sad seeing the below plane? Think of all the places that plane could fly… if only it had engines, a tail, wheels, etc…

To think that just months ago it looked like the below.

How many A380s have been scrapped?

While well over a dozen A380s have been officially retired, not many have actually been scrapped. In other words, most have simply been put in long-term storage. It would appear that so far only two A380s have been scrapped, and those are both former Singapore Airlines frames that were delivered to the airline in 2007 and 2008.

Singapore Airlines had made the decision to not renew the leases on its first five A380s after 10 years, which is why these were retired. TARMAC Aerosave was responsible for dismantling these A380s, and I can’t help but feel like those planes were just scrapped with a bit more dignity, with the tail intact, the engine casing still there, etc.

Of course at the end of the day none of this actually matters. These A380 parts should be reused and recycled in the most efficient way possible. But that doesn’t make it any less sad to see these planes destroyed.

Bottom line

While quite a few A380s have been retired at this point, not many have actually been dismantled. A former Air France A380 has now been scrapped in a way we haven’t seen before. As an aviation geek this sure is sad to see…

Am I the only one who is sad to see this sight?

Comments
  1. Just to play devil’s advocate – it’s actually kind of cool seeing all the various parts. Would be even cooler to see a person in the photo to put size into perspective.

  2. Meh, I’m kinda glad to see it go. At least for Air France’s A380s.

    Flew on the AF A380 once in economy on the upper deck. Sure, it was cool to be up there and have the bins for those in the window seat, but other than that it was not a great flight. You could feel all the small motions of the plane (even when turning on the ground), the seat was so hard and uncomfortable I had to sit on the tiny pillow, and the cabin itself was quite dated. The same could be said for KLM’s 747s in economy. The hard product in those planes were quite uncomfortable unless you wanted to spend more money on business class.

    At the very least, I got to knock off the A380 and 747 off my bucket list last year on that trip, but I personally won’t miss flying them for now.

  3. So sad to see this Ben. I flew on an AF 380 in business upstairs a few years ago. The seats were nothing to write home about but the A380 was magnificent.

  4. The comments re good riddance etc are pathetic.

    It’s not about the service and quality now, it’s about a global pandemic that’s affecting millions of people.

    This is a terrible and upsetting sign of the current situation.

    What next ?

  5. It is indeed sad to see an A380 get dismantled! 🙁

    While I’ve only flown in economy on an A380 with Emirates. It’s certainly the most comfortable plane, for a 14hr flight from North America to the Middle East. Especially for those of us, who can only fly economy!

    While it’s a good thing that the aerospace industry keeps innovating, and airlines move to more efficient planes… it is indeed really sad to see the A380 being dismantled in this way! :’(

  6. Since when can you get an A380 into Knock? I’ve taken off from there in a Flybe E190 and that felt like it was using up the whole runway…

  7. Had an Air France 380 flight scheduled for last August, CDG-LAX in business. I’ve never flown a 380 by Air France and wanted to do it, even though on board hard product wasn’t that great. All well, C’est la vie.

  8. The A380 has many pluses, including a very quiet ride, higher moisture in the cabin air and it is a technical marvel, but the AF standard, at least in Economy, was truly horrible. Good riddance to a plane AF should never have acquired.

  9. I will not miss them. Ninety minutes at baggage claim at JFK Terminal 4 with 500+ others was not an experience that I will look back upon with fond memories.

  10. @Icarus Except Air France was already retiring their A380s, the pandemic was just accelerating that.

    The writing was on the wall for nearly all 747s and A380s before COVID hit. Nearly all airlines with a 747 or A380 had some plan to remove them over the next 2-5 years. COVID just forced airlines to accelerate that process.

    Sure, it’s sad to see them go, but this was going to happen regardless of a global pandemic.

  11. @Alex Conway

    It’s amazing what you can do with an empty plane with low fuel loads, but at 2,340m of 7,700ft the runway at Knock is not all that short.

    You E190 was probably using all the runway to save costs, aka using less that full power on take off to save fuel.

  12. The A380s aren’t being scrapped because they offer too much capacity.

    The A380 is significantly overweight for the amount of passengers it can hold. The engines were also out of date as soon as they were released. The weight problem means it is useless as a dedicated freighter as it hits MTOW well before the volume is filled (along with the lack of a big cargo door).
    Further, the decision to keep the wing span under 80m for fitment in existing airport gate space and also beef it up so it could be used on a heavier stretched version meant it has a poor aspect ratio and is not optimised for the -800 size. So it carries more drag.

    The 787-9 carries around 100kgs less weight per seat at MTOW,, has newer gen engines and a more optimised wing. It also gains further efficiency from use of bleedless engines and replacing hydraulic functions with electronic.

  13. I got to visit the final assembly plant in Hamburg where these glorious birds are delivered and stand right next to them as they were being all polished up. So incredibly sad to see such a marvel of aviation torn apart. Sad indeed.

  14. In retrospect it is actually words and deeds in action not sad. The natural resources that are tied up in these planes can be better used elsewhere. Much of that material is reusable either as spare parts, or recycled and used in beer cans, aluminum car parts, heck even iPhone frames or lap tops. The aluminum alone not withstanding, the titanium and copper and other precious metals that they can recover is unbelievable.

    As a product is retires it should be, no must be reused in the most efficient means possible. It is not sad, or pathetic, or any other term reserved for a living being, but appropriate. All I hear everywhere is virtue signaling about the climate, and waste and carbon emissions, but when it comes to saving the planet, utilization of existing things rather than digging new holes in the ground or pollution into the air from smelting new aluminum rather than using what we have, it really makes me think that those that profess to want to protect the earth do not understand how that really works.

  15. Landing into Knock was always going to be its final journey. There’s no way it could take off again on that runway – is there?

  16. @Dave @A @Juan @Bob @Peter @shoeguy @The Original Donna @jamesbayme

    To everyone saying “good riddance” and blah blah etc… : You’re pathetic and your comments are so rude. This is shocking, enough said. Screw american boeing, Airbus is the king!

  17. I was flying A380 several times in C class. LUFTHANSA and AIR FRANCE. Last time in 2018 with my mommy, from CDG to JFK. I liked that A380 very much. Incredibly quiet – nice and smooth.
    Even in old AF Business Class, we had nothing to complain about…..for a 8 hours day-flight.
    Upper deck, 1st compartment – felt like private flight (even almost all 26 seats occupied).
    Flight back from JFK to AMS with KLM 747-400 combi.
    I defenitely will miss both of them A380 and 747.
    Everybody understands that both are not efficient anymore, but icons for ever, since we obviously will not see such huge planes nevermore.
    I am glad, that I had that experience over the last decades.

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