Posted: Tue 22nd Jan 2019

BelugaXL coming to Broughton ‘very soon’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Jan 22nd, 2019

The wait for the much-anticipated debut of BelugaXL will soon be over.

Several ‘whispers’ on social media suggest a specific date, less than four weeks away, is now earmarked by Airbus for its latest transport plane, complete with smiley whale face to appear in the skies above Flintshire. 

The first of five BelugaXL’s to be built successfully completed a maiden flight last summer, since then the next generation transport has embarked on a 10-month, 750-flight hour certification campaign.

As part of the certification process BelugaXL is expected to fly over to Airbus Broughton for a series of tests at the airport.

Residents in Broughton have been invited to a drop in event at the library on Thursday, January 24 between 2pm and 5pm to find out more about the plane and what impact a ‘beefed up’ Beluga will have on the community. 

With a wingspan of 60 meters – 35% bigger than of the existing Beluga – along with increased capacity and take-off weight, Hawarden Airfield has been upgraded to a ‘Code E’ aerodrome which has required modifications ahead of the new transporter coming into service.

As well as the resurfacing of the runway, new turn pads have been constructed to both ends of the existing runway.

A huge orange and white ‘blast fence’ has appeared alongside Chester Road in Broughton between the main perimeter fence of Hawarden airport and the runway.

The 200ft long 14 ft high fence now obscures a large part of the runway from public view at a popular vantage point.

It is one of two erected at the airport, the other are at the far end of the runway.

 

The new BelugaXL with its instantly recognisable ‘smiling whale’ livery, is fitted with two Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines they will pack around 30% more thrust than the General Electric power plants fitted to the current Beluga fleet. 

BelugaXL’s greater size enables the new-generation airlifter to accommodate two A350 XWB wings, the current Beluga can only carry one, this will speed up their transport from Broughton to the final assembly line in Toulouse.

Additionally, the BelugaXL’s 30% extra capacity compared to the current Beluga provides potential to meet ramp-up needs to meet customer demand for Airbus jets.

Once in service, the fleet of five BelugaXLs will begin to replace the similar number of Beluga A300-600 which have been in service since 1995. 

Each aircraft will perform between 900 and 1,000 flights per year, logging some 1,700 to 1,800 hours annually in servicing 11 line stations at locations across the company’s European industrial network.

A second BelugaXL, which is in the final phases of assembly in Toulouse will be the first into service.

Once we get the nod on the date from Airbus for first arrival of BelugaXL we’ll update via social media. 

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