Airbus is making a splash with the design for the latest version of its Beluga transport airplane.
The brand new BelugaXL (Airbus A330-700L) was unveiled in Toulouse, France, earlier this week with a very special paint job.
Its livery includes a whale-style nose cone, sparkling blue eyes and a smiling mouth.
Airbus tweeted an image of its super-sized transporter jet’s makeover along with the caption, “Whale hello there! Introducing the new BelugaXL dressed up in its livery for the first time”!
The smiling whale design was chosen by Airbus staff following a poll in which 20,000 employees were given six options and asked to choose their favorite. With 40% of the vote, it was the clear winner.
Whale of the skies
Courtesy Airbus / JB. Accariez / master films
It’s based on the A330-200 airliner, which became known as the “Beluga” because of its resemblance to the white Arctic whale.
The airplanes currently carry parts for all of Airbus’ planes from manufacturing sites across Europe to the final assembly facilities in either Toulouse, Hamburg or Tianjin.
The original planes have been in service since 1994, however Airbus launched a program to build a new version with similar modifications and dimensions in 2014.
“The need for the new Beluga comes with the increase in production rates and to get extra capacity on top of this fleet of five aircrafts,” Stephane Gosselin, head of Airbus Transport International said.
“So initially there will be a mixed fleet use of both new Beluga and old Beluga. And then the second need was as well to anticipate replacement of an aging fleet.”
The original Beluga can carry the wings of an A340 airliner or a fuselage section for the A350, but isn’t large enough to transport many A380 super jumbo parts.
However, the BelugaXL measures six meters longer and one meter wider, offering 30% more capacity.
CNN’s Rosie Tomkins explores the the striking Airbus Beluga which transports components of Airbus aircrafts around the world.
It can also lift a capacity six tons heavier than the present model.
This means the new jet will be able to hold both wings for the A350, while the Beluga can only carry one at a time.
The aircraft is due to undertake ground tests before it take its first flight later this year.
SOURCE – CNN Tech.