Posted: Tue 27th Apr 2021

Beluga N°1 leaves Broughton for last time as it heads into retirement

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Apr 27th, 2021

The first Airbus Beluga transporter to grace the skies above Flintshire has taken off from Hawarden airfield for the last time.

Beluga N°1 left the Airbus factory in Broughton just after 2 pm this afternoon heading for Hamburg.

The BelugaST fleet is being retired progressively from commercial service by Airbus due to the larger BelugaXL coming into operation.

Beluga N° 1 will join Beluga N°2 in storage while Airbus ‘evaluates potential future missions.’

Six BelugaXLs will replace the current fleet of 5 BelugaST.

Three XLs have already been produced, the first one is a flight-test aircraft, while the second and third are in operation.

Airbus Transport International – the airline that operates the Beluga – will operate a combined ST/XL fleet until mid-2023 as the remaining BelugaXLs enter into service.

BelugaXL made its debut in Flintshire on Valentine’s Day 2019.

Airbus has said it will be able to provide more information on the future of the original Beluga fleet by mid-2021.

“The BelugaST fleet will be able to fly for many years, so we are looking into possible scenarios for future operations.” A spokesperson said.

The BelugaST’s maiden flight took place in September, 1994 and was awarded certification from the airworthiness authority in October 1995.

A regular sight in the skies above Flintshire, the Beluga ST is used to transport single wings to Airbus final assembly plants in Europe.

The larger Beluga XL has been designed to carry two wings.

[Photo: The Jed Ex]

 

 

 

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