Posted: Wed 6th Jun 2018

New Beluga XL edges closer to maiden flight but its introduction could spell bad news for Broughton aviation fans

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 6th, 2018

The BelugaXL Airbus’ new super size transporter moved one step closer to its first ever flight after passing a crucial Ground Vibration Test (GVT).

The GVT is a requirement for certification of the aircraft and paves the way towards the planes maiden flight later this summer.

The tests took place over eight days using several hundred external accelerometers while the aircraft was ‘stimulated’ by external shakers or seismic exciters.

The first of five BelugaXLs will begin flight tests this summer with operations set to start in 2019 – while many of us can’t wait to see the giant transporter begin operations in and out of Broughton, there could be a bit of a problem trying to spot the new plane on the ground at the airport.

The sheer size of the BelugaXL means new safety measures around the runway will need to be brought in including a huge ‘blast fence’ which will obscure the view of the runway from a popular vantage point.

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

The work includes the resurfacing of the runway, new turn pads to both ends of the existing runway and the erection of three blast fences, one to each end of the runway and one adjacent to the existing Beluga apron.

The blast fencing, also known as jet blast deflectors – are a safety device that redirects the high energy exhaust from a jet engine to prevent damage and injury.

[🎥 An extreme example of what happens when the engines of a KLM 747 jet are spooled up at the famous Maho Beach in St Maarten – a blast fence at Broughton will prevent the bikini and speedo clad masses from being blown across Chester Road into the farmers field opposite]

 

The new BelugaXL is fitted with two Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines which will pack around 30% more thrust than the current General Electric power plants.

According to plans approved by Flintshire County Council one blast fence will run alongside Chester Road just off Broughton roundabout close to the emergency gates.

 

 

[Plan shows the 200 foot long 14 high blast fence which will be erected at the runway close to Chester Road – another two fences will also be erected, one at the other end of the runway and the other close to the Airbus building]

The proposed fence will be 14 feet high, over 200 feet long and painted orange and white, looking at the plans, it will obscure large parts of the current runway view from the roadside and public footpath.

The unofficial viewing area is popular with many people who congregate to watch the Beluga and other aircraft such as the Red Arrows land and take off.

Preparation work has already begun for runway resurfacing, it’s unlikely the fences will be in place for this summers three (rumoured) Red Arrows visits which always draw a large crowd.

A spokesperson for Airbus said:

“The Aerodrome will close one hour early from now until the end of July to allow for preparatory work to be carried out ahead of the runway resurfacing work.

There will be overnight working between now and the end of the project but in this first phase we do not expect there to be any major disruption.”

Of course, there are still plenty of other great viewing spots around the perimeter of the airport – you just have to find them.. 😉

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