The making of a hero

An auction of A380 parts will be held in October 2022 in Toulouse and online. It will bring much emotion to enthusiasts as well as giving them the opportunity to acquire emblematic elements of the jumbo sized Airbus aircraft.

 

It's a safe bet that amateurs will be thrilled when Maître Marc Labarbe, the auctioneer chosen by Airbus to lead the sale, will auction off an unique item. An element which, without belonging to the aircraft, is an integral part of the A380 legend. 

The auctioneer reported: “Someone will have the chance to acquire one of the famous orange suits worn by Claude Lelaie, one of the two pilots who flew with Jacques Rosay during the flight test campaign of the first A380”.

This iconic outfit recalls the extraordinary human adventure of the aircraft's flight test campaign. “From the very first flight, we were able to see that the plane was well conceived and that it had tremendous potential,” said Claude Lelaie.

 

 

Although the test programme was carried out smoothly and efficiently, it still reserved a few surprises which were not always very pleasant for the crew. "It's the very nature of testing!" said one pilot. “Sometimes things don't go as planned, even on the A380. During the first flight, the landing gear failed to lock. We had to adapt and switch to plan B. During another flight, the temperature dropped to zero degrees in the cabin, enough to cool the engineers who had forgotten their little woollen jackets,” the pilot recalls, good humouredly.

Claude Lelaie agreed to donate his jumpsuit for two reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to make this gesture for the Airbus Foundation, which works in the humanitarian field for the benefit of communities and for the young. This resonates with the educational approach that I carry out with schools, with my books on flight testing in the aeronautical profession.
Secondly, it is my way of paying tribute to all the women and men who have made this fantastic program possible, and in particular the Airbus Flight Test team, which I had the honour of directing and who do a remarkable job.


 

 

 

 

Claude Lelaie's suit will be offered with nearly 500 A380 parts, the vast majority from the cabin of the A380 MSN013*. The items have been selected for their technological and aesthetic interest and include lamps, a bar, vanes, a mini stick, a staircase, a ramp, trolleys, seats, and even the cockpit's emergency rope. 

It is now up to fans to prepare to treat themselves in October to a real piece of history, as well as a very unique piece of aviation material!