The BelugaXL has entered into service, providing Airbus with 30% extra transport capacity in order to support the on-going production ramp-up of commercial aircraft programmes, say the firm.

The aircraft, which is an integral part of Airbus’ industrial system, made its first operational flight on the 9th of January.

“This is the first of six BelugaXL to begin work alongside the BelugaST predecessors, with the additional aircraft being introduced between 2020 and 2023. Launched just over five years ago, in November 2014, the entry into service milestone marks yet another successful achievement for the internal aircraft programme that was awarded Type Certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November 2019, following an intensive flight test campaign that saw the BelugaXL complete more than 200 flight tests, clocking over 700 flight hours.

At 63 metres long and 8 metres wide, the BelugaXL has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide. The BelugaXL can carry two A350 XWB wings compared to the BelugaST, which can only carry one. With a maximum payload of 51 tonnes, the BelugaXL has a range of 4,000 km. (2200nm).”

The BelugaXL is based on an A330-200 Freighter, re-using existing components and equipment, and 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 partners, giving the aircraft its distinctive look, say Airbus.

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Steve R

Is it just me or is the Beluga a butt-ugly plane?!


How are we meant to know if you are ugly?

Steve R

Guess I fell into that one!




with the whale face painted on it it reminds me of one of the aeroplanes from that cgi disney movie 🙂


It’s a utility plane who cares how it looks.


pff….thats the wrong attitude, just because its designed for a funtion doesnt mean you cant add a sense of style!

theres a reason every sci fi plane or whatever designed by cgi people looks awesome…. because they blend aesthetics with pure (theoretical) engineering imperative….. just because it’s designed to fulfil a function doesnt mean it cant be made to look cool, or given a personailty!

really wish more stuff in real life took that attitude…


Oddly I think its an awesome looking aircraft.


Jet fuel or plankton?


I read somewhere that Airbus could increase workforce in the UK rather than reduce it as we thought likely with Brexit. Given Boeing’s on-going problems, surely making hay whilst the sun is shining is the best option. Airbus could totally dominate the short/medium haul market. I remember as a student in manchester many years ago seeing the first generation of these aircraft overfly where I lived on the southern outskirts, on their way to Hawarden no doubt

Nigel Collins

It looks more like Flipper!


where are the windows?


It’s for the transportation of aircraft components not people – no windows needed !


oh ok . thanks