Coming to Toulouse automatically means being around Airbuses. You already get to see the first Airbus machines that are waiting to be delivered when you arrive at the airport.
Our plan was to participate in a guided tour through the Airbus factories whilst in Toulouse but as it turns out that needs to be arranged earlier than two weeks in advance. All that was left when we tried to book were two open spots in a French tour. But with our minimal knowledge of that language a guided tour in French wouldn’t have made much sense. Instead, we visited the aeroscopia Toulouse, an Airbus museum.
We took the tram all the way to its terminus. Some few signposts guided us through a park, over a bridge across a motorway and then finally to the gates of the aeroscopia Museum. I have to admit that I thought we were lost more than once. The streets were empty, it was foggy on the day and in general, this didn’t look like a well-frequented path to a museum. I can understand why some TripAdvisor reviews complain about the accessibility of the museum. But at the end of the day, every trip needs a little adventure, even if that adventure is the walk from the tram to the museum.
Before even entering the museum visitors get to see the first aeroplanes: A Concorde and an A 400M.
The Museum aeroscopia is in an old hangar. It is difficult to maintain a warm temperature in a massive hall like that so do dress accordingly.
The museum shop sells miniature aeroplane models, prints and Airbus themed items. There is no restaurant in the museum but there is a vending machine for drinks.
On the lower level of the hangar, they show many Airbus aeroplane models of their commercial aeroplanes and their military aeroplanes. That gives visitors a good understanding of the Airbus range.
First, we walked into an opened fuselage of an Airbus Super Guppy. This massive cargo plane looked so small in the huge hall but once we stood inside we became aware of its enormous size. Makes sense, this cargo plane transports parts of other aeroplanes and those aren’t exactly small.
Next, we stepped inside a Concorde.
This slim machine transported passengers from Paris or London to New York at supersonic speed between 1976 and 2003. Travel time was around 3.5h and with that about 50% shorter than with a normal aeroplane. The route was discontinued after one of the Concordes crushed down in 2000. After the necessary permits to fly were withdrawn, the machines had to be reworked before they were licenced to fly again in 2001. By that time passengers seemed to have lost interest in the supersonic flights and when additional security issues surfaced the Concorde routes were discontinued for good.
When I stepped into the passenger cabin and saw the comfy armchairs I wished for these times to return. Thinking how crammed and uncomfortable it is in today’s aeroplanes made me aware of what a luxury this must have been. 128 passengers fit into the Concorde. This was later reduced to only 100. Tickets for the Concorde were around 20% more expensive than on a comparable route but here, food was still served on porcelain plates whilst the passengers were sipping their Champaign.
This aeroplane was impressive and I am somewhat sad to have never flown with it.
There is one more aeroplane that visitors can step inside and that is the Airbus A300B. Aeroplane manufacturer Airbus created the first twin-engine jumbo jet and the final montage of this A300 happened in Toulouse. The first flight of the prototype was in October 1972. Over 560 aeroplanes of that type were assembled before its production stopped in 2007.
Airbus had several different models of the A300 on the market that differed in their length or in the number of emergency exits.
We saw one of these planes in the Museum aeroscopia. I was impressed by the cockpit, the technical equipment that was on display and also the different kinds of interiors in the different areas of the plane.
The normal chairs in the “cattle class” were vastly different from the business class, the onboard meeting rooms or the double bed spaces with ensuite bathrooms and fully equipped kitchen. Paying customers could have it all.
What else is on display?
Many other small and big aeroplanes are on display in the Museum aeroscopic. There are military aeroplanes and test productions of aeroplanes and everything in between. I was excited about how different all these types of planes look. And have you ever had the chance to stand directly in front of the tip of an aeroplane? Sometimes the front of an aeroplane looks like a smiling face.
There is so much to experience here and even for people that aren’t exactly aeroplane enthusiasts it's still very worthwhile.
Allée André Turcat
09.30 – 18.00
extended opening hours during the French school holidays (Zone C)