From as early as the 19th century, Toulouse was where aviation took off for the intrepid pioneers of the day such as Clément Ader.
Throughout the 20th century, its history has been marked by the exploits of certain engineers, with Latécoère and Dewoitine in the vanguard, while the local company Aéropostale and its legendary pilots (Saint-Exupéry, Mermoz et al.) are forever etched in the memories of the people of Toulouse.
In the post-war era, the city, already popular for its quality of life, saw the development of a flourishing aeronautics industry led by the company Aérospatiale.
From Concorde to Ariane
In 1955, Toulouse gave birth to the elegant Caravelle and later, in the 1970s, to supersonic Concorde.
From the blue sky to the stars was one small step, which Toulouse took in the late 1960s. In 1968, as a result of the French government's decentralisation policy, the CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) left Paris to relocate in Toulouse. It was followed by top engineering schools including ENAC and Sup Aéro that were producing graduates to work in the aeronautical and space industry.
This was how the Ariane rocket came to be designed in Toulouse (you can see a life-size replica at the Cité de l’Espace). This was followed by a whole series of observation and telecommunications satellites.
See the largest aeroplane in the world
Toulouse was now flying high, taking over in the 2000s as the world's leading aeronautical powerhouse thanks to Airbus, a subsidiary of the European EADS consortium.
Today, the entire range of Airbus aircraft (A319, A320, A340, A350, A380, etc.) is assembled on the various Airbus sites near Toulouse-Blagnac airport. Visiting the Jean-Luc Lagardère assembly plant where the A380 is built is an amazing experience, topped off by a battery of facts and figures that are almost impossible to take in.
Enhance your Airbus Experience
- Not far from the Airbus factories, in Beauzelle to be precise, AviaSim offers you the chance to sit at the controls of an Airbus A320 simulator.
It really feels like you are piloting the aircraft, sitting in an enclosed cockpit where you operate nearly all of the controls used on board this type of aircraft, with a 180-degree field of vision. A unique and extremely realistic experience that appeals to both aeronautics newbies and enthusiasts.
- The Ferme des Etoiles in Gers, near Fleurance also boasts a number of flight simulators that use immersive goggles (both aeronautics and astronautics versions) plus a whole battery of software and hardware that technology geeks will love: flight simulation software, a radio-controlled drone with video camera, a wind tunnel, navigation equipment, and more.