Airbus wing jetty, Deeside

Airbus wing jetty, Deeside

Look across the river from the Wales Coast Path here to see the jetty where giant wings from the nearby Airbus factory were loaded onto a barge for their journey by sea to Pauillac, near Toulouse, France.

Most wings built at the factory in Broughton are flown in special planes to Toulouse for fitting to aircraft fuselages. You might see one of the planes departing or coming in to land as you walk this section of the path. The planes are nicknamed “Belugas” because the shape of their fronts (low cockpit in front of a tall fuselage) calls to mind the beluga whale.

The wings for the A380 “Superjumbo” – the world’s largest passenger aircraft – were too big to fit inside a Beluga. Instead they were carried on an extra-long lorry from the factory to the purpose-built jetty. There they transferred to a barge to travel downriver to Mostyn dock, where Airbus’ own ship awaited.

Production of A380 wings began in 2007, following the opening in 2003 of a large new factory building. The last A380 wing left the Broughton factory on 7 February 2020.

The factory’s roots lie in a Government decision in the 1930s to create standby facilities around Britain where RAF planes could be built in the event of war. Vickers-Armstrong built more than 5,000 Wellington bombers there.

The nearby airstrip was originally part of RAF Hawarden, opened in 1939 as a training facility. After the Second World War the site was used for scrapping aircraft. The factory went through various mergers before becoming part of the European Airbus consortium, specialising in wings for commercial airliners.

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