Airbus has rolled out the first BelugaXL outside load freighter from the paintshop in a special livery designed to make the aircraft resemble the species of whale after which the aircraft is named.

The livery was one of six choices submitted to Airbus employees through a poll in which 20,000 people participated. The cetacean-styled livery attracted 40% of the votes cast.

The BelugaXL will now undertake ground tests before first flight planned later this summer.

Airbus launched the BelugaXL project in November 2014 to address the transport and ramp-up capacity requirements for the European airframer beyond 2019.

The new oversize air transporters are based on the A330-200 Freighter, with a large re-use of existing components and equipment. There will eventually be a fleet of five BelugaXLs, with service entry scheduled for 2019.

Alan Dron