VIDEO: Airbus A380 arrives at Filton Airfield for the last time
THE airfield at Filton marked another historic occasion as the countdown to its closure continued.
The Airbus A380 superjumbo, which is the world’s largest commercial aircraft, landed for its last day at the airfield this morning.
The aircraft was developed an built at Filton.
The airfield, which is the cradle of the country’s aviation history, is to close for good on New Year’s Eve, with the last major flight due to land on December 21.
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Owners BAE Systems announced last year that the airfield would close because it was no longer considered “economically viable”.
VIDEO: THE AIRBUS A380 LANDING AT FILTON THIS MORNING
The plane is one of a long and distinguished line of aircraft to have been built at the factory. The list includes the Brabazon and Concorde.
VIDEO: THE AIRBUS A380 TAXIS AT FILTON THIS MORNING
The airfield has mostly been used by aircraft manufacturer Airbus in recent years.
As well as charter flights connecting the firm’s plants and factories across Europe, Airbus planes came to Filton for testing or deliveries.
VIDEO: THE AIRBUS 380 TAKING OFF AT FILTON THIS MORNING
There was some hope that the closure of the airfield would not go ahead earlier this year after it emerged BAE and Airbus parent company were in talks over a multi-million-pound takeover.
But the collapse of the deal has ended any chance of a reprieve and the land where the airfield now stands in Filton is likely to be turned into a massive housing estate.
VIDEO: THE A380'S FINAL LANDING AT FILTON TODAY
The airfield was opened by Sir George White just over a century ago and marked the birth of the UK’s aviation industry.
Bristol has long played a key role in the sector and Airbus has reassured its staff it is to keep faith with the city.
The Filton plant is a centre for research and design but manufacturing has been phased out at the site by Airbus.
However, engineering firms GKM and Rolls-Royce also employ thousands of workers in South Gloucestershire.
Airbus employs around 4,000 people at Filton and another 12,000 highly skilled jobs rely on the sector making it the most important sector in Bristol and the South West.
Airbus says it is committed to Filton and points to the fact that the National Composite Centre, which researches the materials used in building the next generation of aircraft, is based in nearby Emersons Green.
The composite centre is leading research into high-tech carbon composite materials which represent the future of the aviation industry.
There is also a question mark over the future of Concorde Alpha Foxtrot. The iconic plane was designed and built at Filton and was one of the last remaining Concordes in service.
It arrived at Filton nine years ago this week in the final ever Concorde flight, but has been grounded ever since.
The Alpha Foxtrot plane is on display by the side of the runway at Filton and millions have been spent on keeping the aircraft from rusting away.
There were hopes that a heritage centre could be built at nearby Cribbs Causeway to house the plane but the plans fell through when the National Lottery turned down funding for the project 12 months ago.
A new home will have to be found for the distinctive plane within a matter of months.
Filton witnessed the first test flight of Concorde in 1969 and the final Concorde to take to the skies landed in Filton in 2003.
The airfield also saw the first flight of the massive Bristol Brabazon airliner in 1949 and also played a role in the development of the A380 – the world’s largest commercial airliner.
Despite the closure of the airfield Great Western Ambulance Service will continue to operate its rescue helicopter from the area.
Around 19 BAe staff will lose their jobs at the airfield when the site closes, with up to 60 contractors also affected.