This has to be the cutest, happiest plane in the world
SORRY, EVA Airlines’ Hello Kitty Shining Star Jet and ANA’s Star Wars-themed aircraft. You’ve just been one-upped by Airbus.
The renowned European planemaker just unveiled the cutest, happiest plane in the world.
The oddly-shaped Airbus A300-600ST is a version of the standard A300-600 wide-body airliner specifically modified to transport large plane parts such as wings between Airbus’ European production factories to its final assembly lines in France, Germany, and Spain.
The newer version is larger, has a bulbous fuselage and nose cone, making it look like a beluga whale. Hence its nickname, BelugaXL.
Airbus unveiled the aircraft just as it rolled out of the assembly line at the paint hangar in Toulouse, France.
— Airbus (@Airbus) June 28, 2018
This ultra adorable plane must be a sight for commercial airline pilots’ sore eyes.
Here’s what we know about the BelugaXL:
- The Airbus A300-600ST made its maiden flight on Sept 13, 1994.
- It was originally named Super Transporter but was later given the name Beluga because of its uncanny resemblance to the beluga whale.
- Airbus decided to build the BelugaXL in November 2014 to address the transport and ramp-up capacity requirements for the company beyond 2019.
- 20,000 Airbus employees voted in a poll to choose six options of the BelugaXL’s livery, which also included the “smiley Beluga whale” livery. 40 percent voted in favor of the comical, cheeky grin.
- It would be able to transport both wings of an A350 XWB jetliner at once.
- In 2004, an Airbus A300-600ST was used to transport relief to the Indian Ocean region following the devastating tsunami.
- A year later, it delivered aid and medical supplies to the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina
The giant plane will undertake ground tests before its high-profile first flight sometime in mid-July this year.
A total of 72 development and certification ground tests must be performed before the BelugaXL’s maiden flight.
It will then officially enter service in 2019 with four more BelugaXLs in the pipeline.
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Source: Travels travelwireasia.com