Posted: Fri 12th Jun 2020

Three is the magic number! Latest Airbus BelugaXL emerges from paintshop

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jun 12th, 2020

The latest Airbus BelugaXL to be built has emerged from the plane makers paint shop in  Toulouse.

Airbus is building six of the A330 based transporters which will eventually replace the now 20-year-old Beluga ST fleet. 

The company shared a set of photographs taken this week of XL3 freshly painted with the now-familiar Beluga whale livery.

The larger BelugaXL has been designed to carry two A350 wings from Broughton to assembly plants in Europe, the current BelugaST can only transport one wing.

Launched in November 2014, the BelugaXL programme is based on an A330-200 Freighter, with a large re-use of existing components and equipment, XL is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines

The bigger plane allows for 30% extra transport capacity, it is 7 metres longer and 1 metre wider than its BelugaST predecessor.

BelugaXL 3 in the Toulouse paint shop

With the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide, the BelugaXL can carry two A350 XWB wings compared to the BelugaST, which can only carry one.

With a maximum payload of 51 tonnes, XL has a range of 4,000km (2200nm).

Beluga XL made its first flight on 19 July 2018, and received its type certification on 13 November 2019.

It made its first operational flight on January 9, 2020, and by January 20, Beluga XL was the first of the new transporters to enter service full-time service.

BelugaXL program chief Bernard George is reported to have said last year that once Airbus has three of the larger XL planes in full service, which is expected to be late 2020, it will look to sell the five original Beluga’s – nothing has been confined by the plane maker. 

 

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