My Favoritest Aircraft: The BelugaXL

One of the things I like most about my job is that I get to see some really cool things that the general public doesn’t have the chance to do. On July 19, I was lucky enough to have one of those experiences: I was present for the first flight of the BelugaXL, Airbus’ newest super-transporter.

Airbus currently has five first-generation super-transporters: the Beluga ST. It’s always been a favorite of mine to spot one in the skies over the west side of Toulouse. The new BelugaXL is larger than the ST, which will help Airbus meet some production ramp ups.

And so on a beautiful, albeit very warm, Thursday morning, the newest Beluga began its flight test campaign with a four-hour flight. Thousands of employees – including many who worked on the aircraft – lined the runway at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport to witness take-off, which happened shortly after an ST also took off.

Early afternoon, the XL returned and the flight crew and executives gave some brief remarks followed by a party.

Here are some of my favorite photos:

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The older model: the first Beluga ST.

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The new model: the smiley-face livery on the first BelugaXL. The lines are strips of flight test equipment.

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The new kid flying over its older brother.

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Doing a fly-by prior to landing. It’s a mite bigger than the tracker plane.

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Smiling and ready for its close-up.

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Jonah (times 5) and the whale.

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The orange-clad flight crew and Airbus execs.

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New and old as seen from the party hangar.

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XL and ST taking a break after an eventful day.

Final note: Since then, I’ve seen the XL smile just a couple of times. It’s my new favoritest (real word) aircraft.

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About skinsphins

The stories of a 'never out of the country until we moved to France' American.
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