At Toulouse-Blagnac International Airport in the Pyrénées region of France the daunting restoration of the behemoth that is the Breguet 765 “Deux Ponts” (Double Decker) is entering in its 26th year, having been started in 1987 by Ailes Anciennes Toulouse after they rescued the plane from the Evereux Air Base in northern France where it was scheduled to be used for fire fighter training.
The dedicated restoration team has thus far completed the restoration of the outer wings and control surfaces of the plane as well as the landing gear bays and has rebuilt one of the four Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engines which is on display separately in a nearby building. Presently the crew are restoring the fuselage structure and engine nacelles with the structural elements giving the most trouble due to corrosion and the necessarily-complex architecture required to hold together such an enormous craft.
Fortunately the skin of the plane is in reasonably good shape which is allowing the restoration crew to replace corroded under-elements and re-cover them with original surface material. This restoration project, the only one ever attempted on this series of aircraft is likely to take many more years to complete. The “Deux Ponts” is currently stored outside as it couldn’t possibly fit in the association’s existing hangars, but a new building is in the final stages of planning and once constructed the project will be brought under cover.
Perhaps not one of aviation’s most beautiful aircraft, it is certainly among the most distinctive. Passenger versions operated by Air France boasted seating for 59 passengers on the top deck and 48 passengers on the lower deck with an in-plane passenger elevator providing access between the two. While the plane could hardly be considered a runaway success, it had an admirable safety record and is considered by some to be a spiritual progenitor of the Airbus A380 which is assembled just a couple of miles away from where this Breguet is being restored.