The BelugaXL successfully completed its maiden voyage in France.

Image: / f. montet

That’s not a bird or a , it’s a … whale.

This is what it looks like when a massive oversized takes to the sky: ’ aptly named BelugaXL took off on a test flight Thursday morning at the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France. 

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 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 s 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 crew celebrates the whale-sized flight.


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 is designed to look like — you guessed it! — a whale.

The craft will fly from different production sites in Europe to make sure keeps up with its production.

When whales fly. But really.

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