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Airbus A330-743L
BelugaXL
"2018"

The Airbus BelugaXL (A330-743L) is a large transport aircraft based on the Airbus A330-200 Freighter airliner, built by Airbus to replace the original Airbus Beluga in the movement of oversized aircraft components like wings. The aircraft made its first flight on 19 July 2018, and received its type certification on 13 November 2019. The BelugaXL entered service with Airbus Transport on 9 January 2020

Airbus A330-743L BelugaXL "2018"

Role Outsize freight aircraft
Manufacturer Airbus
First flight 19 July 2018
Introduction 9 January 2020
Status In service
Primary user Airbus Transport International
Produced 2016–present
Number built 5
Developed from Airbus A330


Airbus

Airbus A330-743L
BelugaXL
"2018"

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Airbus A330-743L
BelugaXL
"2018"

In 2013, the five original BelugaSTs could not cope with production growth, and Airbus evaluated the Antonov An-124 and An-225, Boeing C-17 or Dreamlifter, and A400M, before choosing to modify one of its own aircraft. The programme was launched in November 2014 to build five aircraft to replace the existing five BelugaSTs; the design freeze was announced on 16 September 2015. The program cost is 1 billion for development and production.

The original BelugaSTs were not to be withdrawn from service when the BelugaXL is introduced; a mixed fleet is to operate for at least five years, as the increased production rate of single-aisle aircraft requires the ability to move more parts.[7] The BelugaST fleet flew more than 8000 hours in 2017, doubled from 2014, but the five BelugaST aircraft are only halfway through their planned service life: another operator could use them for civil or military logistic applications.

Design

 

The combined Beluga fleet was expected to rise to eight aircraft when three XLs are delivered, as the five originals stay in service before being withdrawn from 2021. The BelugaST fleet was reaching its limits, flying five times daily, and six days per week: 10,000 hours in 2017, while some parts are moved over land.[9] A BelugaST takes triple the time to move the A330 parts compared to the parts of an A320, climbing to nine times for the A350 parts.

After the Airbus A350 production increase, Airbus aimed to deliver 880 aircraft in 2019, and raise the A320neo output to 63 per month by 2021; the BelugaXL fleet was expanded with a sixth example in June 2019. The BelugaSTs could still have 10–20 years’ flying life, and may be offered for sale or used to serve external customer

Operators

The first BelugaXL to enter service was the second aircraft built, which rolled out on 19 March 2019; the first test aircraft will be retro-fitted after certification. The second aircraft (MSN1853) commenced flight-testing on 15 April, and by then, the first (MSN1824) had completed more than 140 test flights over 500 hours, the final stage before certification. A third airframe was undergoing conversion, expected to last until the fourth quarter of 2019, for delivery in 2020. Operations were expected to start with two XLs in the second half of 2019.[10]

After more than 200 flight tests over 700 hours, the BelugaXL received its European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certification on 13 November 2019.[

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Airbus A330-743 BelugaXL (2018)

With 30% more capacity than the original BelugaST, the BelugaXL can carry two A350 XWB wings instead of one.[5] Its new fuselage is 6.9 m (23 ft) longer and 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in) wider than the original BelugaST, and it can lift a payload 6 t (5.9 long tons; 6.6 short tons) heavier.[27] Its aft section is based on the A330-300, while its forward is based on the A330-200 for centre of gravity reasons, and the reinforced floor and structure is derived from the A330-200 Freighter.[9] The A330 wings, main landing-gear, central and aft fuselage form a semi-built platform with few systems, without the aft upper fuselage, while the upper central fuselage is cut off, facilitated by the metal construction.[9] The enlarged freight hold is mounted in three months with 8,000 new parts on the junction line.

Specifications

    • Capacity: 50,500 kg (111,333 lb) payload
    • Length: 63.1 m (207 ft 0 in)
    • Wingspan: 60.3 m (197 ft 10 in)
    • Height: 18.9 m (62 ft 0 in)
    • Empty weight: 127,500 kg (281,089 lb)
    • Max takeoff weight: 227,000 kg (500,449 lb)
    • Fuselage diameter: 8.8 m (29 ft)
    • Cargo hold: 2,209 m3 (78,000 cu ft) volume
    • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Trent 700 turbofan, 316 kN (71,000 lbf) 
    • Cruise speed: 737 km/h (458 mph, 398 kn) , Mach 0.69 at FL350
    • Range: 4,300 km (2,600 mi, 2,300 nmi) at max payload
    • Service ceiling: 11,000 m (35,000 ft) 

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