The BelugaXL has entered service, providing
Airbus with 30% extra transport capacity that will support the
on-going production ramp-up of commercial aircraft programmes.
The aircraft, which is an integral part of Airbusí
industrial system, made its first operational flight on 9 January.
This is the first of six BelugaXL to begin work alongside the
BelugaST predecessors, with the additional aircraft scheduled to
introduced over the next three years.
Launched just over five years ago, in November
2014, the entry into service milestone marks yet another
successful achievement for the internal aircraft programme that
was awarded Type Certification by the European Aviation Safety
Agency (EASA) in November 2019.
Certification was achieved after an intensive flight test
campaign saw the BelugaXL complete more than 200 flight
tests, clocking over 700 flight hours.
At 63 metres long and 8 metres wide, the BelugaXL
has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo
Amazingly, the BelugaXL can carry two A350 XWB wings
compared to the BelugaST, which can only carry one.
With a maximum
payload of 51 tonnes, the BelugaXL has a range of 4,000 km.
The BelugaXL is based on an A330-200 Freighter,
enabling the re-use of existing components and equipment, and is
powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines.
The lowered cockpit, the
cargo bay structure and the rear-end and tail were newly developed
jointly with partners, giving the aircraft its distinctive look.
Like the BelugaST, the aircraft will operate from
11 destinations in Europe.