Airbus's 185-acre facility sits on the edge of Toulouse's airport. Though it also builds A350, A330 and some A320 aircraft here, we stuck to section dedicated to the A380.
In a building as massive as the A380 itself, crews take the airplane's major parts and fasten them together. They also attach the engines and landing gear, outfit much of the interior wiring and systems, and perform tests on the control surfaces. There's space for eight aircraft inside.
As we walked in, we saw an A380 destined for Emirates. Currently the largest A380 operator by far, Emirates now has ordered 142 airplanes, with 96 delivered as of the end of July.
The vertical stabilizer (or tail) and the engine cowlings are two of the few parts that arrive at the factory already painted. The mostly aluminum fuselage, still a pea-soup green at this point, will be painted in Hamburg, Germany after the aircraft's first flight.
At this station, crews were attaching the four giant engines, which are made by outside manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce. When we toured on a Friday afternoon, the factory floor was surprisingly quiet with few workers visible.
Next we were taken up a stairway behind the aircraft so we could walk inside. As we climbed up, we got a great view of the auxiliary power unit, or APU. It powers the aircraft when the engines aren't running and is used to start the engines before flight.
The interior was a far cry from how the cabin would look complete with seats, galleys, lavatories and (for Emirates) the premium class bar. Technicians walked through the cabin making checks with the only light coming from portable stands on the floor.
Holes for the windows were cut long before the fuselage was shipped to Toulouse. The three fuselage sections are made in Germany and elsewhere in France, the wings in the United Kingdom, and the tailplane (or horizontal stabilizer) in Spain.
Being totally empty, the upper deck appeared to stretch on almost forever. After the plane is completed and conducts test flights, it will be flown to Hamburg for installation of the interior fittings and delivery to the customer. If you'd like to buy your own A380 and outfit as you wish, they start at $437 million.
As we walked out, we passed an A350 undergoing final assembly. Airbus's newest aircraft, it started flying passengers in 2015. To see an A350 in action, check out our photo gallery from the 2017 Paris Air Show.
Outside the factory was the the convoy we had followed the previous night. By next week, they'll disappear into the factory for final assembly. And about eight months after that, the completed airliner will begin flying with Qatar Airways.