The BelugaXL made its first operational flight on January 9. It is the first of six to enter into service by the end of 2023.
The BelugaXL entered into service on January 9, the day of its first operational flight. Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, the Airbus BelugaXL is based on the A330-200 Freighter. At 63 metres long and 8 metres wide, the BelugaXL has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide, recalls Airbus. This aircraft dedicated to non-standard freight 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 (2200 NM). It provides the European manufacturer “with 30% extra transport capacity in order to support the on-going production ramp-up of commercial aircraft programs”. The aircraft is the first of six BelugaXLs to begin work alongside the BelugaST predecessors, derived from the Airbus A300. Launched in November 2014, the BelugaXL obtained its type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November 2019, following an intensive flight test campaign that saw the aircraft complete more than 200 flight tests, clocking over 700 flight hours.