Airbus operated the maiden flight of its 6th and last BelugaXLwhich will soon join the rest of the family of specialized cargo aircraft which entered service in early 2020,
Still registered F-WWXY, the aircraft, which is an integral part of Airbus’ industrial system, took off for the first time on July 21, 2023. This sixth “smiling beluga” will join the four XLs already delivered, which work alongside their BelugaST predecessors. Launched in November 2014 and following its maiden flight 5 years ago, the BelugaXL – a heavily modified A330-200F, designed to carry large aircraft components within the Airbus aircraft production network – had received its type certification by EASA in November 2019.
The BelugaXL offers 30% more transport capacity compared to its predecessor, with 7 meters in length (63m in total) and 1 meter in width more (8m in total); it has the largest cargo hold cross section of any cargo aircraft in the world, and can carry the complete wing of an A350 (against a half-wing for the ST version).
With a maximum payload of 51 tons, and equipped with Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines, the BelugaXL has a range of 4000 km (2200 nm). Compared to its predecessor, the cockpit has been lowered, the structure of the cargo compartment as well as the rear part and the empennage of the aircraft have been newly developed “in collaboration with the partners”, giving this aircraft with its dedicated livery its distinctive look of a smiling beluga whale”.
BIG week for our much loved #BelugaXL ! As our 6th and final gentle giant takes to the skies for the first time today, we also celebrate 5 years since our first XL outsized cargo transporter took her #FirstFlight pic.twitter.com/kQ70Kz3O4g
—Airbus (@Airbus) July 21, 2023
—Eurospot (@cliper31) July 21, 2023