Airbus’ ‘whale in the sky’ takes maiden flight

Airbus’ ‘whale in the sky’ takes maiden flight

There’s still no word on whether pigs can fly — but you aren’t going mad if you spot a whale soaring past your window anytime soon because Airbus’s Beluga XL aircraft — nicknamed the “whale in the sky” has taken off for the first time.

It took off from Toulouse Airport in France this morning for its maiden flight.

The Beluga XL aircraft taxis in front of Airbus employees at Toulouse-Blagnac. Picture: AFP
 
The Beluga XL aircraft taxis in front of Airbus employees at Toulouse-Blagnac. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
 

A crowd of more than 10,000 people, mostly employees and subcontractors of the European aircraft manufacturer, applauded as it took to the skies.

Airbus staff waved flags as the Beluga prepared for its test flight.
 

The plane has been designed to move oversized aircraft components and has an extra 30 per cent capacity on the current Beluga planes that it will replace.

The launch of the aircraft triggered thunderous applause in an audience of more than 10,000 people.Picture: AFP

This new plane is 6m longer and a metre wider, which means it can carry two A350 XWB plane wings instead of one.

This extra space in the “bubble section” and the new lowered cockpit —The launch of the aircraft triggered thunderous applause in an audience of more than 10,000 people. which makes space for a main deck with direct cargo loading capabilities — is what gives the plane its unique appearance.

The crew of an Airbus 'BelugaXL' aircraft after its maiden test flight of four hours. Picture: AFP

The crew of an Airbus ‘BelugaXL’ aircraft after its maiden test flight of four hours. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

In a nod to its whale-like shape, Airbus has painted a whale’s mouth and eyes on the side of the nose.

The plane, which weighs 125 tonnes, can carry up to 53 tonnes in the hold for a distance of more than 4000km.

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