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BelugaXL successfully completes maiden flight

Airbus’ latest heavy-lift aircraft touched down in Toulouse earlier today after a successful first flight.
The first Airbus BelugaXL aircraft has landed at Toulouse-Blagnac, France at 14:41 hours local time after successfully completing its first flight.

Following the first flight, which lasted four hours and 11 minutes, the BelugaXL will undergo some 600 hours of flight test over 10 months to achieve Type Certification and entry into service later in 2019.

The BelugaXL aircraft takes to the skies in Europe. The new BelugaXL will replace the smalled BelugaST. (Image source: Airbus)

Over the past few weeks, the BelugaXL successfully completely various ground-based tests, including ground vibration testing in June.

The BelugaXL lands at Toulouse-Blagnac. (Image source: Airbus)

The BelugaXL program was launched in November 2014 to address Airbus’ transport capacity requirements in view of the A350 XWB ramp-up and single-aisle production rate increases. The aircraft will operate from 11 destinations as Airbus’ method of transporting large aircraft components.

From left to right: Test Flight Engineer Jean-Michel Pin, Flight Test Engineer Laurent Lapierre, Experimental Test Pilot Bernardo Saez Benito, Experimental Test Pilot Christophe Cail, and Flight Test Engineer Philippe Foucault (Image source: Airbus)

Based on an A330-200 Freighter, the BelugaXL 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 suppliers, giving the aircraft its distinctive look.

The livery also helps.

Five aircraft will be built between 2019 and 2023 to gradually replace Airbus' five currently operating BelugaST lifters.


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at
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