The whale-inspired plane with the broad smile – Beluga XL – is an important step closer to permanent service in the sky. But you never get to fly with it.
It is referred to as one of the aviation’s most anticipated aircraft, and will undoubtedly become the most recognisable vessel flying on the seven oceans. It was the Airbus employees who voted for the distinctive whale look, and while giants such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747 are coming out of service, Beluga XL becomes one of the largest.
Even without the drawings, the plane can recall a whale with wings. The engineers took their point of departure in the Airbus A300 and gave the hull a pear shape which gave it a clear visual resemblance to the whale whale that has given the type of aircraft its name (beluga is the English name for white whale). With smiling mouths and big eyes painted on the fuselage, it is almost impossible not to see the similarity.
Recently, the latest test flights conducted in the UK and Beluga XL are thus an important step closer to being put into active service. On Saturday, flight enthusiasts were gathered in Wales to see the plane returning to Toulouse in France, three days after arrival.
– This aircraft is iconic for our company, tells the manager of Beluga XL program, Bertrand Grosse, to CNN Travel .
– This is the work horse in Airbus. So it’s more than just a plane – it’s the plane that allows Airbus to build aircraft every day , he continues.
The XL edition is 30 percent larger than the standard edition, but if you had hoped for the opportunity to pretend that you are Pinocchio or Jonas in the belly of a whale, then we must sadly disappoint you:
The aircraft is a cargo plane and the 45 meter long cargo compartment will carry wing sections and airframes that are up to eight meters wide and 7.5 meters high from various facilities around Europe to factories in France, Germany and Spain for final assembly.