It’s a bird, its a plane. No. It’s a whale? Airbus has officially launched it’s Beluga whale-shaped airplane.
With a happy smile painted to the front, this super-transporter cargo plane is designed to fly aircraft components for the company between its production sites and final assembly lines in Toulouse, Hamburg and Tianjin.
According to CNN, the interesting plane took its first flight on 9 January 2020.
The Airbus Beluga XL outsize cargo aircraft. pic.twitter.com/hJPsPRHcBs
— Machine Pix (@MachinePix) May 10, 2019
The plane is a modified version of the original Beluga, the Airbus A300-600ST. The major differences being that the flight deck has been lowered, the fuselage is grafted into a huge cargo bay and an upward opening hatch in the “bubble” for airplane components to easily be loaded and removed.
The big plane is powered by twin Rolls-Royce Trent 700 turbofan engines. It is 63 meters long and 8 meters wide with the largest cross-section of any cargo craft in the world. The big build is necessary, as the plane can carry a payload of 51 tons and can fly a range of 2,200 nautical miles.
“This plane is, I would say, iconic for our company,” George told CNN Travel. “This is the workhorse for Airbus. So it is more than a plane. It is what enables Airbus to build aircraft every day.”
Image: MusafirNamah/ Twitter