Airbus’ latest super-sized transport aircraft, BelugaXL has officially entered service adding the extra capacity to Airbus’ transport network that it needs to meet its planned increases in production of commercial aircraft.
Based on the A330-300 Freighter, the BelugaXL is 63 metres long and 8 metres wide which allows the aircraft to carry two A350XWB wings compared one in the current BelugaST transport aircraft.
Capable of carrying a 51-tonne payload, BelugaXL has the largest cargo bay cross-section of any aircraft and its entry into service gives Airbus a 30% capacity increase.
The BelugaXL was finally certified in November last year after an extensive flight test programme seeing over 200 test carried out over 700 flight hours.
Like all Airbus commercial aircraft, the wings for the BelugaXL were made at Airbus UK’s wing-manufacturing facility at Broughton, North Wales. It is also powered by Derby-made Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines giving the aircraft an even stronger connection to the UK.
The first BelugaXL will now start flying Airbus wings and fuselage sections between the companies 11 sites in Europe and will be a familiar sight over the skies of the UK as it regularly visits Hawarden Airport to pick wings for its siblings from Airbus Broughton.
The aircraft is the first of six BelugaXL aircraft that will enter service over the next 3 years.