THE FINAL preparations for the arrival of a state-of-the-art aircraft are underway at a Flintshire airport.

Airbus' 125 tonne BelugaXL took off at France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport for its maiden flight in July last year.

The aircraft - whose livery features beluga whale-inspired eyes and an enthusiastic grin chosen by staff – is to enter service later this year.

Video by Craig Colville

Ahead of its arrival in Broughton, the first of two blast fences has been put up at Hawarden Airport.

The fences are designed to redirect the high energy exhaust from the plane’s jet engines.

A spokesman for Airbus said: "The blast fences are the final preparations for the entry into service of the BelugaXL later this year.

"The new aircraft will be able to transport two A350 wings simultaneously and are vital in securing Airbus’ future plans.”

There will be two blast fences – one at each end of the runway.

The Beluga XL, which can carry 30 per cent more Broughton-manufactured products to sites across Europe, will replace the fleet of the current Beluga ST.

Each aircraft will perform between 900 and 1,000 flights per year, logging some 1,700 to 1,800 hours annually in servicing 11 line stations at locations across the company’s European industrial network.

Following its four hour and 11 minute maiden flight, Airbus chief test pilot Christophe Cail said: "The aircraft behaves really well in flight.

"It's impressive how close the BelugaXL’s performance is to what we experienced in the ground-based flight simulators.

"First flights take a lot of preparation and we are just the tip of the iceberg, so ‘thank you’ to the entire team. It's only together that we can make it fly."