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'Whale in the sky' makes maiden voyage as Airbus Beluga XL departs Toulouse sending smiling giant soaring through air

Mirror logo Mirror 19/07/2018 Abigail O'Leary

A plane branded a 'whale in the sky' has made its maiden voyage as the Airbus Beluga XL departed Toulouse this morning.

The impressive aircraft, designed to resemble a Beluga whale, took to the skies as part of a 10-month test to see if the jet will be worthy of entering service.

Airbus plan to eventually bring the air cargo craft to Broughton in North Wales.

a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky © Credits: REUTERS Complete with a whale mouth and eyes on each side of the nose, the Beluga XL will replace the current five plane Beluga ST fleet .

The new jet can carry six more tonnes and is 20ft longer, while being powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 high bypass turbofan aircraft engines.

© Reuters It also has an enlarged fuselage “bubble” section that is six metres longer and one metre wider than on the Beluga ST.

© AP

The maiden flight is expected to take around three and a half hours before landing back at Toulouse.

a crowd of people standing around a plane © Credits: REUTERS

Tim Orr, head of branding at Airbus, said: "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."

a large passenger jet flying through the air © Credits: Facebook Airbus were live tweeting the plane's maiden voyage this morning, jokingly posting: "Whale, whale, whale...that's a lovely day for a maiden flight don't you think."

They later tweeted "whale done" after a successful take off.

Crowds of people had gathered alongside the runway to witness it taking to the air for the very first time

a large passenger jet flying through a cloudy blue sky © Credits: AIRBUS © Credits: REUTERS The test schedule could see the plane visiting North Wales in the coming months after upgrade work is completed at the Flintshire runway to accommodate the plane.

Related: Battle of the jets: How does Putin's lavish plane compare to Trump's Air Force One?

Air Force One © Reuters Air Force One

A total of five 'smiling whale' planes are expected to be put into service.

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