BelugaXL makes maiden flight


The first BelugaXL has made its maiden flight from Blagnac in Toulouse, France.

The aircraft, the first of five BelugaXL to enter service next year, took off at 10:30 local time, for its maiden flight over south-western France.

The crew in the cockpit on board this flight comprised: Captain Christophe Cail, Co-Pilot Bernardo Saez-Benito Hernandez and Test-Flight Engineer Jean Michel Pin.

The monitoring of the aircraft systems and performance in real-time at the flight-test-engineer’s station was conducted by Laurent Lapierre and Philippe Foucault.

The BelugaXL will gradually replace the BelugaST transporters. It was launched in November 2014 to address the transport and ramp-up capacity requirements for Airbus beyond 2019. The new oversize air transporters are based on the A330-200 Freighter, with a large re-use of existing components and equipment.

A large “bubble” airframe section has been added to the fuselage’s lower portion to increase the Beluga XL’s diameter from 5.6m for an A330 up to 8.8m. The cockpit has been lowered to make space for a main deck with direct cargo loading/unloading capabilities above it.

The Beluga XL’s volume has been increased 30% compared to the existing Beluga ST. The cargo hold is 45m long with an internal diameter of 8m and a payload capability of 50 tonnes, so it can accommodate fuselage sections and transport A350 XWB wings.


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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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