The Airbus Beiga XL super-transporter, which resembles a giant whale, is heading to the UK from France on Thursday, February 14. Beluga is a version of the standard A300-600 wide-body airliner modified to carry aircraft parts and oversized cargo. The airbus will leave its headquarters in Toulouse, France at 1pm today before making its way to the UK.
When will the Beluga XL fly over the UK?
The Beluga XL will fly past Airbus’ Filton factory near Bristol at 2.45pm.
From there it will travel on over the Severn Bridge at 2.50pm and arrives at Hawarden Aerodrome in Broughton, Flintshire in Wales at 3.30pm.
An Airbus spokesman said: “We are very much looking forward to seeing XL land in Broughton for the first time and are conscious that members of the public may want to witness the historic occasion too.”
However, members of the public are urged not to travel to the factory in Broughton.
“Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate sightseers on the factory site and so could encourage people to head to the Chocks Away Diner by the aerodrome, rather than block the public footpaths or create dangers for themselves or other road users,” the spokesman added.
The decision to build the BelugaXL was taken in November 2014 to address the transport and ramp-up capacity requirements for Airbus beyond 2019.
They are based on the A330-200 Freighter, with a large re-use of existing components and equipments.
The Beluga XL has an enlarged fuselage “bubble” section that is six metres longer and one metre wider than on the Beluga ST.
The Airbus completed its first test flight in July and circle the skies over southwest France.
The flight took off from Blagnac in Toulouse and signified the start of a 10-month testing period before the plane can start flying commercially.
Airbus said the aircraft is the first of five Beluga XL’s to enter service during 2019.
The airplane carry parts for all of Airbus’ planes from manufacturing sites across Europe to the final assembly facilities in either Toulouse, Hamburg or Tianjin.
The original planes have been in service since 1994 but Airbus launched a programme to build a new version with similar modification and dimensions in 2014.
The front of the Airbus was painted to resemble a Beluga Whale as a result of a poll voted by 20,000 employees who were given six options and asked to choose their favourite.
Airbus tweeted an image of its super-sized transporter jet’s makeover: “Whale hello there! Introducing the new Beluga XL dressed up in its livery for the first time!”