usatoday Airbus' distinctive "Beluga" aircraft made its first flight 20 years ago this past weekend.
The Airbus A300-600ST, a transport aircraft often referred to as "the Beluga" for its uncanny resemblance to the whale of the same name, made its first-ever flight on Sept. 13, 1994.
The aircraft, dubbed by at least one media outlet as "the world's strangest-looking airplane," is used by Airbus to help fly large plane pieces to its assembly lines in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany.
AIRBUS: Beluga celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first flight
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The Beluga is capable of holding the wings of an A340 widebody. It's also capable of transporting the fuselage section of Airbus' newest widebody jet, the A350.
Such oversized parts would otherwise be difficult – or downright impossible – to fit into typical transport aircraft.
Airbus paid homage the 20th anniversary of the first Beluga flight.
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"The Beluga is an essential element of Airbus' integrated logistics and production system," Airbus COO Günter Butschek said in a statement ahead of the anniversary. "It is thanks to its reliability and engagement of the Beluga teams that we can fulfil our constant pursuit of efficiency."
Boeing, of course, has its own special transport plane for flying oversized items. Boeing's is a modified 747, which was designed largely for transporting pieces of the Dreamliner – which explains the "Dreamlifter" name that Boeing gave to its equivalent of the A300-600ST.