Toulouse - Today, Airbus unveiled the first Beluga XL in full livery. The new ship carrier is set to launch its maiden flight this summer.

Beluga XL wears a spectacular livery inspired by Beluga whale with eyes on the sides and a happy grin in front. Thus, the European manufacturer uses the unusually bulbous shape of its unique transporter for an allusion to the arctic white whale.

In total, five Beluga XL will be produced for transportation of the fuselages and wings between Airbus plants. The first Beluga XL is scheduled to take off for the first flight in the coming months.

Beluga XL is larger than the previous Beluga model. Therefore, instead of a single A350 wing, it can carry two assembled wings of the widebody jet from Broughton factory in Wales to Bremen facility in Germany for testing and then to the final assembly line (FAL) in Toulouse.

The new livery was selected with the votes of Airbus employees from six designs. 40 percent of 20.000 votes went to the smiling Beluga XL. Before the first flight, the new jet will be exposed to ground tests. The commissioning of the Airbus' next-generation oversize cargo airlifters is scheduled for 2019.

Photo: Airbus