Airbus’s largest cargo aircraft receives approval from European authorities
Airbus says its new larger aircraft transporter will enter service early next year
’s new BelugaXL aircraft has been awarded a “Type Certification” from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), meaning the plane should enter into service by early 2020.
With the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide, the BelugaXL is used to airlift completed sections of planes from different manufacturing sites in Europe to Airbus’s final assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.
It can carry two A350 XWB wings compared to the BelugaST, which can only carry one and has a maximum payload of 51 tonnes.
It allows for 30 per cent extra transport capacity being 7 metres longer and 1 metre wider than its BelugaST predecessor.
The EASA approval follows a flight test campaign that saw the BelugaXL complete more than 200 flight tests, clocking over 700 flight hours.
In total, six aircraft will be built between 2019 and 2023, gradually replacing the current fleet of BelugaST transporters, Airbus said.
Launched in November 2014, the BelugaXL is the latest addition to Airbus’ transportation portfolio.
Like the BelugaST, the aircraft will operate from 11 destinations in Europe, continuing to “strengthen industrial capabilities” and enabling Airbus to deliver on its commitments.
Last month budget American carrier Spirit Airlines said it is renewing its current fleet with 100 Airbus aircraft. The multi-billion dollar deal would be Airbus’ first major sale to a US airline since Washington announced tariffs on the European firm.
In 2018 Airbus generated revenues of €64 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. It offers a range of passenger airliners and provides tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft.
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