Airbus having a (bigger) whale of a time
The first of five new Airbus Belugaxls made a 4hr 11min maiden flight from the manufacturer’s ToulouseBlagnac on 19 July. The aircraft will now undertake some 600 hours of flight testing over a ten-month period leading to service entry in 2019. The Belugaxl programme was launched in November 2014 to address Airbus’s transport capacity requirements in view of the A350 XWB production rampup and build rate increases for its single-aisle range.
Based on the Airbus A330200 Freighter, the Belugaxl is powered by R-R Trent 700 engines. Five will be built between 2019-2023, gradually replacing the current fleet of Belugasts. The XL’S maximum payload is 51 tonnes and it has thirty per cent more capacity than the ST, enabling it to transport two A350 XWB wings, compared to one in the current aircraft. The Beluga XLS will operate to eleven destinations.
The new Belugaxl has thirty per cent more capacity than the ST