The first flight of Beluga XL the eventual successor to the current Beluga transport plane, will take place sometime between July and September next year Airbus has said.
In an update, the company said work on assembling the first BelugaXL large transporter is progressing well, and attachment of its main cargo door is set to commence in mid-November, it expects to achieve ‘power-on’ before the end of this year.
Recently received parts for the aircraft’s specially designed tail section which have been installed on the aircraft include the horizontal tailplane, the tail cone and the vertical tailplane.
Airbus has launched the electrical and mechanical systems installation for the whole fuselage, in readiness for electrical power-on at the end of the year and ground tests early in 2018.
The first BelugaXL is scheduled to fly in Q3 2018, ahead of a 10-month flight test certification campaign and will enter service with Airbus Transport International (ATI) in 2019.
Aircraft ‘number one’ is the only aircraft which will take part in this campaign and so it is being equipped with a ‘full’ flight-test instrumentation (FTI).
The Beluga XL project was launched in November 2014, the transporter is derived from the freighter version of Airbus’ A330-200.
It is six metres longer, one metre wider and has a payload lifting capacity six tonnes greater than the current Beluga A300-600ST.
When operational, the fleet of five BelugaXLs will take over transporting wings from Broughton to the company’s aircraft assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.