The new Airbus Beluga program, called Beluga XL, which is the development of a transport aircraft with 30 percent more capacity than the previous version of the Beluga which was based on the A300-600, has passed a crucial milestone. The concept phase, also called “design freeze” at aircraft level has successfully passed muster, and now Airbus will move into the detailed design phase.
“This milestone paves the way for a successful final assembly start in 2017,” said Bertrand George, head of the Beluga XL program.
The Beluga XL program was launched in Nov. 2014. Based on the 330-200 freighter with a large re-use of existing components and equipment, the aircraft will be powered with a Rolls Royce Trent 700 engine. The first of five XLs which Airbus plans to build will enter service in 2019. The current fleet of five 300-600ST Super Transporter aircraft simply called Beluga, carry complete sections of Airbus aircraft which are produced at various sites around Europe to the final assembly lines in Toulouse, Hamburg and Seville.
Beluga XL will be 63.1 meters in length and 18.9 meters high, with a fuselage diameter of 8.8 meters. The wingspan is 60.3 meters. The XL will be able to fly 2,200 nautical miles with a maximum payload of 53 tonnes, with maximum take-off weight of 227 tonnes.
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