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Airbus’ BelugaXL made its first flight on Thursday, circling the skies over southwest France.
The super-transporter is one of the largest aircraft in existence, six meters longer and one meter wider than its predecessor, the BelugaST transporter.
The flight, which took-off from Blagnac in Toulouse, signified the start of a 10-month testing period before the plane can start flying commercially. Typically, the Beluga series has been used by Airbus to transport aircraft wings from factories to its assembly lines in Europe.
One wing factory is sited at Hawarden airport in North Wales. To allow the supersized plane to land, Hawarden is erecting new blast fences and resurfacing its runway.
The announcement came soon after Airbus revealed the super transporter’s new paint job, which was designed to represent its name sake, the Beluga Whale. The design was voted for in a poll by 20,000 people.
Airbus said the aircraft is the first of five BelugaXL’s to enter service during 2019.