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In the Airline Manufacturing world, two companies rule the stage: Boeing, based in Seattle, Washington and Airbus, a European brand with plants in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany.
The manufactures are different in many ways, but both (luckily) offer r tours of their manufacturing plants. WorldTravelReport writer Charlie Roskos wrote about his experiences in Seattle at the Boeing plant. Now, I’m here to tell you what it was like visiting Airbus in Hamburg, Germany.
Airbus’ plant is located to the Southeast of Downtown Hamburg and is 9.3KM from the center of Hamburg. Options of transportation are available including bus service, ferry-ride, and is reachable by driving. Rather than locate itself at the main airport, Airbus has its own airport called Finkenwerder. Airbus uses its Hamburg plant to produces the A320 family aircraft and final assembly of the A380-the world’s largest passenger aircraft.
When you arrive, you be reoriented from the main entrance (employees only) to a lesser building on the left for Avgeeks like yourself. Look for “Globetrotter.” They run the tour. Once you enter, check in and wait for your tour time (you must have a passport as identification.) Tours are operated in different languages. The two tour language options are in English and German. Book ahead online to make sure you get on the right tour, so you can understand what you will be looking at. It costs 24 Euros a person.
Our tour guide was a former Airbus employee who was quite knowledgeable. Two thing you should not however before the tour begins, 1: you are allowed to bring your phones /cameras unlike at Boeing where you have to put them in lockers, but you cannot take photos or videos while on the plant property. 2: you cannot touch anything that is Airbus property (aircraft parts, papers, etc.), a security guard will follow the tour the whole time to ensure you don’t do either. If you do you will be escorted off the tour and you will not be refunded.
Soon after meeting the group you’ll board a large bus and begin the drive onto the property. The first stop you will make it to a conference center for a video about Airbus’ history. Next, you will walk through the final assembly of the A320 family aircraft. This is where I find the tour to be slightly superior to Boeing’s in Seattle. At Airbus, you actually walk on the factory floor, right next to the fuselages, wings, engine, and more. WOW Air from Iceland is an Airbus only customer and they have ordered some A321 NEO aircraft, one of the wings with the large Sharklets attached was sitting right on the ground next to us, waiting to be attached to the fuselage. Airbus really allows you to get up super close to these large jets. Once you complete your walk through the A320 family hanger you will board the bus once again and drive across the airfield to the A380 final assembly. You never know how large these aircraft are until you have seen how big they are!!.. After that you walk into another hanger that houses one fully built A380 at a time, while it receives its interiors. You will walk up a few flights of stairs and then walk right above the massive 500+ seat aircraft. While on the tour an Emirates A380 was getting its interiors installed.
From there, you will board the bus one last time and drive across the airfield again back to the main starting point, there you will return your headsets and say your final goodbyes to the group and your tour guide. The tour will last over 2 hours in total.
I am a Boeing fan at heart but Airbus puts on a great tour of their facilities, a slightly better one then Boeing I would say, since I have done both. I’d like to one day see how this tour directly compares to their other factory tour in Toulouse, France.
Thank you for a great tour Airbus, I have a little more appreciation for your joystick flying airplanes now!
WorldTravelReport- Thoughts that Fly….