Airbus BelugaXL number 4 is fresh out of the paint shop in Toulouse. JetPhotos shared the exclusive photo of Airbus BelugaXL (A330-743L) number 4, which received the finishing touches from the paint shop in Toulouse; the aircraft was rolling out wearing the smiley face beluga whale special livery yesterday, on 17th July. The third super transporter cargo plane had rolled out of the same paint house a year earlier, in June 2020.
BelugaXL, the aircraft that started its service on 9th January 2020, has the largest cargo bay cross-section among the cargo aircraft operating worldwide. The company launched the first six aircraft of the Airbus BelugaXL variants to work alongside its predecessor Airbus BelugaST with the intention of introducing additional aircraft between 2020 and 2023.
Introducing Beluga To Future
The Airbus family decided to build the large cargo aircraft in November 2014. It was a decision to address the transport and ramp-up capacity requirements for the cargo section beyond 2019. They had been specially constructed with the purpose of carrying the aircraft components. The design of the Airbus BelugaXL is based on the A330-200 freighter, largely re-using the existing components and equipment of its predecessor. Although the overall aspect of this big-cargo aircraft might be based on a conventional commercial air-vessel, it has undergone the conversion to be a perfect cargo aircraft.
BelugaXL launched just five years ago in November 2014; Airbus BelugaXL received Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November 2019. The entry into service of this larger cargo aircraft marks another successful milestone for the Airbus family. BelugaXL completed the certification tests with more than 200 test flights and clocking over 700 flight hours.
The 60 meters long and 8 meters wide air transport can carry two of the A350 XWB, which is twice more than its predecessor BelugaST. BelugaXL can carry a weight load of up to 51 tonnes and cover a distance of 2,200 miles on a single flight. Also, the turn-around time(TAT) for this cargo-aircraft takes approximately 1 hour, which is almost double efficient as the BelugaST.
The previous Beluga version of the Airbus family, BelugaST, had been introduced as one of the most voluminous cargo holds of that period. The aircraft’s maiden flight took place in September 1994 and was certified by the Airwpthiness Authority in October 1995. BelugaSt has an overall length of 56.16m, 17.25m height, 44.84 wingspans, 39.1m loadable volume length, and loadable cross-section max-width and height of 7.1 m, respectively. The cargo-aircraft has 47 tonnes max payload capacity, marking the max take-off weight of 155 tonnes and max landing weight of 140 tonnes with zero fuel weight of 133.8 tonnes and max fuel capacity of 23,860 liters covering 1,025 miles in a single max load flight.
In over two decades of service, the BelugaST airlifted the complete section of the Airbus family aircraft from different production sites spread across the globe carrying the major components of aircraft like fuselage, wings, and tails section. The BelugaST variants also operated successfully for special worldwide operations for other Airbus payloads like helicopters, satellites components, or even complete satellites.
Like the prevision generation of the beluga line from the Airbus family, the BelugaXL is set to operate from 11 destinations in Europe. With this incredible feat, the Airbus family is looking forward to strengthening the industrial capabilities and delivering what it has promised, redefining the cargo segment of air transport.
Special Beluga Livery
Besides its futuristic approach to specs and designs, one of the most remarkable things about this large cargo aircraft is that the fascinating, unique beluga whale livery. The special and unique design of the BelugaXL resembling the canaries of the sea stuns anyone seeing it for the first time. Besides having similarities in the name, why did the Airbus family go all the way to create the perfect replicate of the Beluga whales?
The big smiley whale livery of the aircraft was selected as very interesting; the smiley whale livery was one of the existing choices submitted to the Airbus employees through a poll participated by 20,000 people. Among the six livery choices for the big-cargo aircraft, the smiley face whale livery won with 40% votes in favor.