Whilst Airbus has been busy winning orders and demonstrating its products at the Farnborough Air Show 2018, this morning the teams in Toulouse managed to showcase their latest aircraft with the first flight of the BelugaXL.
Developed from the A330-200 Freighter airframe, the BelugaXL is the latest variant on the oversized cargo carrier which shuttles Airbus wings and fuselage sections between the various assembly lines.
Previous incarnations include the Super Guppy and the A300 Beluga ST, of which five examples are still in service.
The BelugaXL is larger and wider than the previous type, and is capable of carrying parts for the new A350 and A330neo aircraft.
This morning at 1030 local time, the first of five aircraft that will be built was lined up on the longer runway at Toulouse, before departing on a sortie over southern France to begin the test phase of the programme.
This particular aircraft, F-WBXL, wears a special smile marking from the cockpit, adding to its whale-like appearance which the name alludes to.
We look forward to seeing these aircraft in European skies from 2019, following certification.
Congratulations to Airbus for this achievement.