That’s not a bird or a plane, it’s a … whale.
The 4-hour, 11-minute flight, which took place with three crew members aboard, was the BelugaXL’s first flight before it takes off in 2019 to transport large aircraft parts to assembly lines in France and Germany. Crew members on the ground helped to make sure the test flight went smoothly after dozens of ground tests before Thursday’s flight.
Five of these giant planes will be built over the next five years and will replace five of the older version, the BelugaST. The new craft has Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines and a lowered cockpit. Its cargo hold is one of the largest ever on a civilian or military craft.
The massive craft is the length of two whales and can carry up to 51 tons. Playing along with the whale theme, the nose of the plane is designed to look like — you guessed it! — a whale.
When whales fly. But really.