The first Beluga XL, the new Airbus heavy lifter which will eventually replace the current Beluga has been rolled out of its hangar for the first time.
Basic assembly appears to have been completed and the aircraft has been moved to another part of the Airbus Toulouse site where work will be completed ahead of ground testing.
A picture posted on Twitter by Rami Khanna-Prade taken at Airbus in Toulouse shows the new Beluga XL covered in a green protective coating – a larger picture can be viewed here – flickr.com/photos/ramis-photos
— Rami (@A330LFBO) January 4, 2018
Another picture was captured by aviation photographer @Frenchpainter
— Jujug Spotting (@Frenchpainter) January 4, 2018
More pictures have emerged;
— Clément Alloing (@CAlloing) January 5, 2018
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.
The electrical and mechanical systems have been installed for the whole fuselage Airbus had previously said they aimed for electrical power-on at the end 2017 followed by ground tests early this year.
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.