The Airbus BelugaXL had its maiden flight on July 19, 2018. The airplane’s flight took off and returned to France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and lasted for four hours.
The BelugaXL is set to enter service for Airbus in 2019 and will be used to move aircraft parts between production facilities in Europe for the manufacturer.
Airbus Changing Needs
Airbus began considering options in 2013 when the five original Belugas could not cope with the companies production growth. Airbus evaluated a couple Russian cargo airplanes, the Boeing C-17, the Boeing Dreamlifter, and the Airbus A400M. Airbus determined that modifying one of their existing airplanes was the best option and started the program in November 2014. Airbus plans to build five BelugaXLs.
Airbus will operate a mixed fleet of the existing Belugas as well as the new BelugaXLs when they are introduced. Airbus will begin withdrawing the original Belugas from the fleet in 2021.
The Airbus BelugaXL is based on the A330 airliner. The airplane’s lower fuselage will be assembled on the A330 assembly line and will then be moved to another line to have the upper fuselage and the lowered nose fuselage added.
The BelugaXL has 30% more cargo volume than the existing Belugas it is replacing. It is 20 feet longer and will be able to carry 4 tons more payload. The upper cargo hold is unpressurized and will be able to carry two A350 XWB wings.
Airbus BelugaXL Specifications
- Capacity: 117,000 lb payload
- Length: 207 ft 0 in
- Wingspan: 197 ft 10 in
- Height: 62 ft 0 in
- Wing area: 3,892 sq ft
- Max takeoff weight: 500,449 lbs
- Maximum landing weight: 412,000 lbs
- Empty weight: 276,000 lbs
- Powerplant: 2 Rolls-Royce Trent 700 Turbofan, 71,000 lbs thrust each
- Range: 2,200 nm with max payload