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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

Flying whale: Airbus BelugaXL takes flight

• By David Szondy

At 2:21 pm CEST, the three-story tall airplane touched down after finishing its first four hours and eleven minutes in the air with Captain Christophe Cail, Co-Pilot Bernardo Saez-Benito Hernandez and Test-Flight Engineer Jean Michel Pin at the controls.

In an industry where the boring laws of aerodynamics makes one commercial aircraft look pretty much like the next, the BelugaXL stands out. With its bulbous cargo area and cetacean-like nose, it's designed to ferry large aircraft components between 11 Airbus locations to support production of the Airbus 350 XWB and other models.

Development of the BelugaXL began in November 2014 when it was found that the existing fleet of BelugaST aircraft was insufficient for future needs.

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