Airbus auctions off bits from retired A380 superjumbo jet

Souvenirs, novelties, party tricks. Your chance to snag a piece of the largest passenger jet in the world

Aviation enthusiasts without the budget to bag one of the discontinued Airbus A380s are in luck, as the jetmaker plans to auction off pieces from a retired superjumbo later this month.

The three-day auction starts on October 13, and will include nearly 500 items, most of which were taken from the A380 with tail number MSN13, operated by Emirates between 2008 and 2021. "Lamps, bars, stairs, handrails, trolleys, seats, and even the cockpit escape rope" will be available to bid on in-person in Toulouse, France and live online, Airbus said. 

In addition to pieces taken directly from MSN13, some seats from other A380 aircraft are being included in the auction, as well as a flight suit worn by A380 test pilot Claude Lelaie on the first flight test campaign for the jet. Several street artists have also been invited by Airbus to take some pieces of MSN13 to be turned into art for the auction, from which all proceeds will go to the Airbus Foundation, the aerospace firm's charitable arm.

The A380 joined the aviation world in 2005, when it became the first passenger aircraft with an upper deck running the full length of the plane. The A380 was, and is, the world's largest passenger jet: Depending on configuration it can carry more than 500 passengers. 

The final A380 was assembled late last year, marking the 251st in its class. Other A380 jets are still being flown by Emirates, Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways and others. Of the A380 series, most (123) are flown by Emirates. 

Wide-body aircraft like the A380 may be readily recognizable, but they aren't the primary jet in most airline's fleets – that honor belongs to narrow-body aircraft with a single aisle. Analysts predicted last year that the COVID-19 pandemic would have a further cooling effect on orders  for wide-body craft like the A380, which are expensive to operate and maintain (and non-trivial to park).

Airbus' newest craft, the A321XLR, swaps a wide body and airborne luxury for a single aisle, "extra long range" design that carries just 200 passengers, but is able to handle 11-hour flights and distances up to 8,700km (5,406 miles) while using less fuel than wide-body craft like the A380. According to Airbus, it already had 515 advanced orders for the A321XLR by June of this year. 

That's not to say all newer narrow-body aircraft have done well. A pair of crashes that killed everyone on board in 2018 and 2019 grounded the 737 MAX until last year, with flaws in its MCAS software ultimately found to have contributed to the fatal accidents. 

Last month, Boeing agreed to pay $200 million to settle allegations from the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it had misled investors about the 737 MAX's safety. ®

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