Beluga XL story: from the project to the entry into operational service (photo / video)
The Beluga XL story began in November 2014, when Airbus made the first statements regarding the new transport aircraft. The design and production phase followed. Then in December 2015, the first part for Beluga XL started to be manufactured.
After 3 years from the concept, Airbus was beginning the great assembly of the first Beluga XL. On April 12, 2017, the first large sections of the new state-of-the-art Airbus transport aircraft, Beluga XL, arrived at the Toulouse Final Assembly Unit (L34) in Toulouse. The BelugaXL program was built around the A330-200, and the propulsion is provided by the Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines.
The story Beluga XL
During 2017, Airbus managed to put all the parts together. And in January 2018 the first Beluga XL was presented, when it left the Toulouse assembly line. In June 2018, the first Airbus Beluga XL was presented in full livery, also called "smiley livery".
In July 2018, Airbus Beluga XL successfully operated the first flight. On July 19, 2018, I attended a historic Airbus moment. The first Beluga XL came off the ground in the first test flight. After 4 hours and 11 minutes of flight, the plane returned to Toulouse. Check out some new images as well: Airbus Beluga XL Air-to-Air.
With the first flight, the Beluga XL program entered the ground and air testing phase, taking important steps towards final certification. In November 2019, Beluga XL has received EASA certification after an intense testing campaign. BelugaXL has completed over 200 test flights, totaling over 700 flight hours. In total, 6 aircraft will be built between 2019 and 2023, gradually replacing the current fleet of BelugaST cargo aircraft.
And here the new Beluga XL has entered the operational service. The new Beluga XL aircraft will support the production of Airbus aircraft. All will be a smile, thanks to the special livery. In December 2019, the first Beluga XL was officially taken over by Airbus Transport International (ATI). And in January 2020 he made his debut on commercial flights.
Beluga XL has entered the operational service
Cele 6 Beluga XL aircraft will operate flights to Airbus bases in Europe. They will transport large components from 11 European destinations, in particular from France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain. Compared to the previous generation of Beluga aircraft, the new Beluga XL can carry up to 30% more. It is 7 meters longer and 1 meter larger in diameter compared to its predecessor.
But most importantly, BelugaXL can carry a pair of wings for the A350 XWB, the standard reason for developing this cargo aircraft. BelugaST can only carry one, making production difficult. With a maximum transport load of 51 tonnes, BelugaXL has a range of 4.000 km (2200nm).
By mid-2023, Airbus Transport International (ATI) will operate a mixed fleet of Beluga ST and Beluga XL aircraft.