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BelugaXL: The Latest Airbus Whale Takes Off In Style

The BelugaXL Will Keep Airbus In the Distributed Aircraft Manufacturing Business

BelugaXL via Airbus

On July 19th 2018 the Airbus A330-700XL F-WBXL took to the skies for the first time. The aircraft, more commonly referred to as the BelugaXL, took off from Toulouse-Blagnac in France at 1030 local time. The flight crew was Captain Christophe Cail, Co-Pilot Bernardo Saez-Benito Hernandez, and Test-Flight Engineer Jean Michel Pin. Additional flight test engineers were Laurent Lapierre and Philippe Foucault. The aircraft landed back at Toulouse-Blagnac at 1441 local time. This video about the BelugaXL was uploaded to YouTube by Airbus.

BelugaXL via Airbus

The BelugaXL will now undergo 600 hours of flight testing over 10 months to gain Type Certification and entry into service later in 2019. The BelugaXL program was initiated during November of 2014 to address the transport and ramp-up capacity requirements, such as the A350 XWB ramp-up and single-aisle jetliner production rate increases, for Airbus beyond 2019. The new oversize air transporters are based on the A330-200 freighter variant and share a large percentage of existing components and equipment with that aircraft.

BelugaXL via Airbus

Airbus will build a total of five A330-700XL aircraft between 2019 and 2023 to gradually replace the five BelugaST A300-600ST transporters now in service. BelugaXLs will operate from 11 locations around Europe to transport large aircraft components to final assembly plants in France and Germany. The BelugaXL is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines. The lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure, aft fuselage sections, and empennage were newly developed jointly with suppliers, giving the aircraft its distinctive look. Nice paint job too!

Beluga XL via Airbus

Bonus: Airbus Beluga XL Fun Facts uploaded to YouTube by Airbus.

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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