I’m no expert – it’s why I write words for UNILAD and not Planes ‘R’ Us – but if you’re going to design a plane to look like an animal, wouldn’t it be better to use an animal which could fly, rather than one which spends its entire life underwater?
Then again, perhaps that’s the point? After all, you’ve got to dream big to make it in life, and if you dream big enough, maybe one day beluga whales will fly, who knows?
In the meantime, we can all sit back and enjoy this massive plane that looks like a beluga whale flying through our skies instead.
It’s called the Airbus Beluga XL, and is set to enter service later this year.
Unfortunately, it’s not a passenger plane (yet), and is destined to be a super-transporter plane, shipping aircraft components between Airbus’ European production sites.
Airbus have got five of these beasts though, so chances are – if you’re in Europe – you might be lucky enough to see the whale-shaped plane winging it through the skies.
So how did the plane designers settle on using a beluga whale as the inspiration for their new plane? They took a vote, of course, giving Airbus employees the chance to decide between several options of animal.
The beluga reportedly came out on top, with 40 per cent of the vote, CNN reports. I think they should’ve gone with hammerhead shark but again, I’m no expert.
To create the unusual plane, engineers modified an A330 airliner, lowering its flight deck and adding the big, bulbous ‘head’ of the whale, which opens from the front.
Bertrand George, head of the Beluga XL program, told CNN Travel ‘kids recognize the Beluga, they love this very special plane’.
This plane is, I would say, iconic for our company. This is the workhorse for Airbus. So it is more than a plane. It is what enables Airbus to build aircraft every day.
Can’t wait to spot one of these flying overhead.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.