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Beluga XL enters into service

BelugaXL enters into service

The aircraft, an integral part of Airbus’ industrial system, made its first operational flight on 9 January. The freighter is the first of six Beluga XL aircraft to begin work alongside the Beluga ST predecessors. The additional five aircraft will be introduced between 2020 and 2023.

The Beluga XL was launched just over five years ago in November 2014. The entry into service milestone marks yet another successful achievement for the internal aircraft programme.

The freighter was awarded Type Certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November 2019. This followed an intensive flight test campaign. During the campaign, the Beluga XL completed more than 200 flight tests and over 700 flight hours.

Beluga XL provides Airbus with 30 per cent extra transport capacity in order to support the on-going production ramp-up of commercial aircraft programmes.

Distinctive look

The Beluga XL has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide at 63 metres long and 8 metres wide. The freighter can carry two A350 XWB wings compared to the BelugaST, which can only carry one. The Beluga XL has a maximum payload of 51 tonnes and a range of 4,000 km. (2200nm).

The aircraft, based on an A330-200 Freighter, enables the re-use of existing components and equipment. It has Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines. Airbus says it newly developed the lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure and the rear-end and tail jointly with partners. These give the aircraft its distinctive look.

Beluga XL is the latest addition to Airbus’ transportation portfolio.

The company uses air transport as the primary method for transporting large aircraft components. However, the company also uses road, rail and sea transport to move parts between production sites. Like the BelugaST, the aircraft will operate from 11 destinations in Europe.

You can read more about the Airbus Beluga here.

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