4 JULY, 2023
Airbus BelugaXL, a super-sized transporter used by Airbus to transport aircraft components, resembles a white Arctic whale and is known affectionately as the "smiling whale".
BelugaXL measures 63.1 m in length, 18.9 m in height, and has a wingspan of 60.3 m. It is the largest cargo aircraft in service, with a cargo hold of 2,209 cubic metres.
Based on an A330-200, the successor to the BelugaST, the BelugaXL flew first in January 2020. The sixth and the last XL rolled out of the paint shop last weekend.
The XL is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, providing it with efficient performance to transport chemical tanks, space rocket components, and large aircraft parts.
Airbus utilises BelugaXL to move aircraft parts between its manufacturing sites in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. It remains the preferred mode of transport for the manufacturer.
With 30% more capacity than the BelugaST, XL features an elongated fuselage "bubble" section that can accommodate larger aircraft sections, such as complete wing sets for the Airbus 350.
The BelugaXL stands out from the BelugaST with its larger dorsal fin, now made of three parts, and an updated horizontal tailplane with raised auxiliary fins on the outer edges.
A noticeable feature in the BelugaXL is the introduction of ventral fins along the bottom of the fuselage, enhancing the aircraft's stability.
The BelugaXL can simultaneously transport aircraft components, including a pair of A350 wings, the largest fuselages, engines, with ample space for additional cargo.
XL's future is going to be interesting, being an important part of Airbus's logistics system and being the sole mega-lifter after the sad demise of AN Mriya.