Posted: Thu 6th Jul 2023

Airbus rolls out sixth and final BelugaXL and its a little bit different to the others

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jul 6th, 2023

Airbus has unveiled its 6th and last BelugaXL freighter at its plant in Toulouse, France, standing out with a subtly distinctive livery change compared to its five predecessors.

Based on the Airbus A330-200 model, the six-strong XL fleet is replacing the Beluga ST fleet, a regular sight in the skies above Deeside for over two decades.

XL6 bears the same Airbus tail colours and logo as XLs 1 to 5. However, it also features the large branding, ‘Also flying outsize cargo to your destination’.

The most notable change, though, is the addition of a winking eye to the Beluga’s smiley face on the forward fuselage, lending an extra touch of charm to its distinctive appearance.

Initially, Airbus intended to build five BelugaXLs, each equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, to replace the older A300-600ST Beluga fleet, but a sixth was later ordered.

Launched in late 2014 to support the A350 ramp-up and other production rate increases, the BelugaXL made its first flight in 2018.

The XL made a spectacular debut at Airbus Broughton on Valentine’s Day 2019.

After receiving the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) airworthiness authority’s type certification in November 2019, the first BelugaXL entered service in January 2020.

By the end of 2023, the six BelugaXLs will replace the current BelugaST fleet.

The enhanced BelugaXL offers 30% more transport capacity than its predecessor, the BelugaST, due to its seven-metre-longer and one-metre-wider dimensions.

This considerable size enables it to accommodate two A350 jetliner wings, compared to the BelugaST’s single-wing capacity.

Like the BelugaST, the BelugaXL fleet will operate across 11 European destinations, helping Airbus maintain its production and delivery commitments.

The BelugaXL, with a maximum payload of 51 tonnes and a range of 4,000 km, is ready to redefine the standard for oversized air cargo transport and pave the way for Airbus’s industrial capabilities.

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