It’s the next-generation aircraft that has earned a reputation for the most bizarre-looking plane in the world.
In the shape of a whale sporting a bulbous head and a friendly grin, the latest version of the Airbus BelugaXL freighter planes (Airbus A330-700L) have just been unveiled in Toulouse, France.
“The new oversize air transporters are based on the A330-200 Freighter, with a large re-use of existing components and equipment,” Airbus said in a statement on its website.
Airbus staff chose the design following a poll after 20,000 employees were given six options and asked to choose their favourite, with 40 per cent of the vote – it was a clear winner.
— Airbus (@Airbus) June 28, 2018
Compared to the current BelugaXL, the latest version can carry six tonnes of extra cargo, increasing the limit to 53 tonnes.
Airline Intelligence and Research managing director Tony Webber told The New Daily it wasn’t unusual for airlines to use quirky designs for its aircraft livery and said it was possible for other airlines to follow in Airbus’ footsteps.
“Aircrafts including Qantas have used Aboriginal livery and painted its planes pink for breast cancer awareness,” Mr Webber said.
“The Japanese also really love a colourful lively design on its aircrafts and Alaskan Airlines design the livery on its aircraft tails to symbolise aviation pioneers.”
Mr Webber said airlines frequently sought out the opinions of its employees.
“Qantas have a program where they’ve asked employees for input on how to save money and for other ideas because they’re the ones who are usually passionate about aviation.”
The new Airbus aircraft is six metres longer and almost one metre wider than its predecessor, allowing the aircraft to make further efficiency improvements when it comes to transporting large airplane parts.
Further improvements with the new design will allow the aircraft to carry two Airbus A350 wings, instead of just the one, as with its current model.
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.
— Airbus (@Airbus) July 3, 2018
There are currently five Belugas freighting aircraft parts including fuselage sections, wings and tails for the A320, A330 and the new A350 to manufacturing sites to Europe facilities in either Toulouse, Hamburg or Tianjin.
The first Philippine Airlines Airbus A320neo flew non-stop to Brisbane from Manila on Tuesday, leading to several plane enthusiasts on Twitter asking Qantas to do the same.
The BelugaXL will now undertake ground tests before the first flight planned later this year and will officially enter service in 2019.