The first Airbus BelugaXL aircraft has successfully conducted its maiden operational flight, marking its entry into service.
Also known as Super Transporter, BelugaXL is designed to offer up to 30% additional transport capacity to the company.
The aircraft will enhance Airbus’s plan to accelerate the production of commercial aircraft programmes.
Launched in November 2014, aircraft was put through a thorough flight test campaign. The aircraft has completed over 200 flight tests and logged in more than 700 flight hours.
The entry into service follows after the transporter received its Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November last year.
In July 2018, the aircraft completed its first flight that lasted for four hours and 11 minutes.
The BelugaXL will complement the company’s existing transporter, the BelugaST. The remaining five BelugaXL aircraft are expected to be introduced between this year and 2023.
Featuring a 63m-long and 8m-wide body, the aircraft is designed to carry two A350 XWB wings and features the largest cargo bay cross-section among all cargo aircraft worldwide.
Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, the BelugaXL has a range of 4,000km with a maximum payload of 51t.
The BelugaXL has been based on the A330-200 freighter and built re-using the existing components and equipment.
Airbus had collaborated with its partners to design new components for the aircraft that include a lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure and rear-end and tail.
The BelugaXL will be operating across 11 destinations in Europe.
In addition to air, Airbus also transports large aircraft components by road, rail and sea.