The Beluga XL cargo Aircraft has joined its fleet! The new giant bulb aircraft flew from Airbus home, Toulouse, France to its second home in Chester, England, where wings and other parts are produced. This aircraft is the third of six Beluga XLs that would be introduced to the Airbus fleet by 2023.
The company shared a set of photographs taken this week of XL3 freshly painted with the now-familiar Beluga whale livery.
The larger BelugaXL has been designed to carry two A350 wings in one trip, from Broughton to assembly plants in Europe, the current BelugaST can only transport one wing.
Launched in November 2014, the BelugaXL is based on an A330-200 Frame with a large re-use of existing components and equipment, XL is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines.
In addition, the new Beluga allows for 30% extra transport capacity by 7 meters longer and 1 meter wider than its BelugaST predecessor.
The Beluga XLs have a special route map as it is designated for transporting aircraft components between Airbus sites. The aircraft flies exclusively between production sites in Europe and final assembly lines in Toulouse, Hamburg in Germany, and Tianjin in China. Recently, Airbus added Getafe, Spain in the network of these planes.
Airbus is gradually replacing its fleet of STs with the modern XL new versions. Eventually, it plans to have six of these giant planes in operation by 2023. With the three in service right now, Airbus is well on schedule to achieve this goal.
Bernard George, chief of the Beluga XL program, is reported to have said last year:
Once Airbus has three of the larger XL planes in full service, which is expected to be late 2020, it will look to sell the five original Beluga’s – nothing has been confined by the plane maker.Bernard George