Aircraft

Airbus' giant whale-shaped BelugaXL cargo plane goes to work

Airbus' giant whale-shaped Bel...
The BelugaXL cargo plane made its first operational flight on January 9
The BelugaXL cargo plane made its first operational flight on January 9
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A giant cargo plane designed to carry large aircraft pieces between manufacturing facilities for Airbus has entered service
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A giant cargo plane designed to carry large aircraft pieces between manufacturing facilities for Airbus has entered service
The BelugaXL has the largest cross-section of any cargo aircraft in the world
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The BelugaXL has the largest cross-section of any cargo aircraft in the world
The BelugaXL cargo plane made its first operational flight on January 9
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The BelugaXL cargo plane made its first operational flight on January 9
View gallery - 3 images

A giant cargo plane designed to cart around large aircraft components for Airbus has entered service. The three-story-tall BelugaXL is designed to replace an existing fleet of Airbus' cargo planes, and gives the company's carrying capacity for such operations a 30-percent boost.

The BelugaXL took to the air for the very first time in July of 2018, but this would be just the first of 200 test flights and 700 hours of airtime en route to a Type Certification, awarded by the European Aviation Safety Agency in November of 2019.

With a length of 63 meters (220 ft) and width of eight meters (26 ft), the BelugaXL has the largest cross-section of any cargo aircraft in the world. It can lift up to 51 tonnes (112,500 lb) into the air and carry that maximum payload across 4,000 km (2,485 mi).

The BelugaXL has the largest cross-section of any cargo aircraft in the world
The BelugaXL has the largest cross-section of any cargo aircraft in the world

The architecture of the BelugaXL is based on Airbus' A330-200 Freighter and it is powered by a pair of Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines. The first of six BelugaXLs made its first operational flight on January 9, with the new planes to be introduced to work alongside their predecessors, the BelugaSL, until those are phased out by 2025.

Source: Airbus

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6 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
What a cool looking, fun airplane design! I love it! ☺
buzzclick
Now that's a ridiculously looking aircraft. The Antonov 225 looks far better and probably larger.
ljaques
From the Wiki: The main deck cargo volume of the Beluga is greater than that of the C-5 Galaxy or the Antonov An-124 but still smaller than Antonov An-225. However, it is restricted by cargo-weight capacity of 47 tonnes, compared to 122.5 tonnes for the C-5 Galaxy and 150 tonnes for the An-124. // I agree with Mzungu. Fun plane, and the only one I know of with a chin.
bwana4swahili
I do like the paint job. The eye and mouth are fabulous on this beast!
Wolf0579
I wonder what aliens would make of this. "The primitive humans painting an airplane to look like one of the sea mammals suggests a primitive sea mammal religion, etc, etc."
sadfacejack
Double the fuel capacity. Build it out as the ultimate airborne recreational vehicle. Jet-setting!