Smile, it’s often said, and the world smiles with you. If true, the world will soon find itself grinning ear to ear, but it still won’t match the BelugaXL’s supersized expression of joy.
With the first of five next-generation oversize cargo airlifters slated to enter service in 2019, Airbus asked its employees to select how the A330 Family-based BelugaXL should appear to the world. “The six designs we proposed for consideration by employees respected our brand identity while running from the conventional to the unconventional, even adding a touch of fun,” explained Tim Orr, Airbus’ Head of Branding.
Garnering more than 40 per cent of the employees’ vote, the “Smiling BelugaXL” entry – complete with beluga whale-inspired eyes and a happy grin easily won this competition.
With its bulging upper forward fuselage and enormous cargo area (one of the most voluminous of any aircraft in existence, civil or military), Airbus’ BelugaXL will be plenty recognisable as it is. The addition of a happy face to the distinctly-shaped airframe that gave rise to the iconic aircraft’s name will further reinforce it in the public’s mind and help further develop Airbus’ identity.
“It is amazing how our BelugaXL airlifters foster such enthusiasm,” said Bertrand George, Head of the BelugaXL programme. “I’m extremely proud of working on such an important symbol of our company, and I’m sure my team feels the same about this exciting project. I’m already looking forward to seeing our first BelugaXL emerging from the paint shop and greeting the world with a big smile on its face.”
Airbus’ Beluga fleet is used to transport complete sections of the company’s aircraft among production sites around Europe and to final assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.
Built as a replacement for the five current Beluga A300-600ST versions that entered service beginning in 1996 (based on the A300-600 jetliner), the BelugaXLs are derived from the larger and more powerful A330-200, sized at six metres longer, one metre wider, and boasting a payload lifting capacity that is six tonnes greater than their predecessors.
As an example of its increased payload capabilities, a BelugaXL will be able to carry two wings for the new widebody A350 XWB instead of a single wing currently accommodated on the BelugaST.