Airbus‘ BelugaXL has started transport operations, providing the planemaker with 30% extra transport capacity in order to support an increase in production of commercial aircraft.
Six BelugaXLs in total will work alongside the BelugaST predecessors, with the additional aircraft being introduced between 2020 and 2023.
The aircraft was awarded Type Certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November, following flight testing which saw the BelugaXL complete more than 200 flight tests.
At 63 metres long and eight metres wide, the BelugaXL has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide.
The BelugaXL 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 4,000km.
The BelugaXL is based on an A330-200 Freighter, enabling the re-use of existing components and equipment and is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines.
The lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure and the rear-end and tail were newly developed jointly with partners, giving the aircraft its distinctive look.