Freight Airbus BelugaXL enters service

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has announced, that its new transport aircraft BelugaXL has entered regular service.

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The entry into service is a huge milestone for the European aircraft manufacturer. With the BelugaXL, Airbus is able to transport up to 30% more freight than with predecessor BelugaST, which was based on the Airbus A300. The BelugaXL however is based on the A330, which has a much larger fuselage.

On January 9, this year, the Airbus BelugaXL performed its first operational flight. F-GXLH is the first of six aircraft to join the transport fleet of Airbus. Currently, the aircraft is operating flights between Toulouse, Bremen and Chester.

Airbus wrote in a statement: "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, following an intensive flight test campaign that saw the BelugaXL complete more than 200 flight tests, clocking over 700 flight hours."

BelugaXL is the aircraft with the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide. It can carry two Airbus A350 XWB wings. The BelugaST could only carry one. The XL also features a maximum payload of 51 tonnes, and it has a range of 4,000km (2200 nautical miles).

Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines are powering the aircraft. They are state-of-the-art high-bypass engines that are more efficient than older engines.

The fact, that the BelugaXL is based on the Airbus 330-200 enables Airbus to re-use existing components and equipment. The lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure and the rear-end and tail however were newly developed in collaboration with partners.

"The BelugaXL is the latest addition to Airbus’ transportation portfolio. While air transport remains the primary method for transporting large aircraft components, Airbus also uses road, rail and sea transport to move parts between its production sites. Like the BelugaST, the aircraft will operate from 11 destinations in Europe, continuing to strengthen industrial capabilities and enabling Airbus to deliver on its commitments," the manufacturer added.

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