The new Beluga XL will look more like a giant whale than ever before

Airbus’ Beluga fleet is used to transport wings from Broughton as well as other completed sections of the company’s aircraft among production sites around Europe and to final assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.

Airbus has unveiled smiling whale livery for its next generation of Beluga cargo plane.

The BelugaXL, which is due to come into service in 2019, will sport a huge smiling whale design on the cockpit and front side fuselage.

Airbus asked its employees to select how the A330 Family-based BelugaXL should appear to the world.

“The six designs we proposed for consideration by employees respected our brand identity while running from the conventional to the unconventional, even adding a touch of fun,” explained Tim Orr, Airbus’ Head of Branding.

More than 40 per cent of Airbus employees’ voted for the “Smiling BelugaXL” entry – complete with beluga whale-inspired eyes and a happy grin the design easily won the competition.

“It is amazing how our BelugaXL airlifters foster such enthusiasm,” said Bertrand George, Head of the BelugaXL programme.

“I’m extremely proud of working on such an important symbol of our company, and I’m sure my team feels the same about this exciting project. I’m already looking forward to seeing our first BelugaXL emerging from the paint shop and greeting the world with a big smile on its face.”

Airbus’ Beluga fleet is used to transport wings from Broughton as well as other completed sections of the company’s aircraft among production sites around Europe and to final assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.

Built as a replacement for the five current Beluga A300-600ST versions that entered service beginning in 1996 (based on the A300-600 jetliner), the BelugaXLs are derived from the larger and more powerful A330-200, sized at six metres longer, one metre wider, and boasting a payload lifting capacity that is six tonnes greater than their predecessors.

As an example of its increased payload capabilities, a BelugaXL will be able to carry two wings for the new widebody A350 XWB instead of a single wing currently accommodated on the BelugaST.