Airbus’ BelugaXL cargo transport aircraft has received its Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), ahead of its planned entry-into-service early next year.
The aircraft, formally known as the A330-743L, is set to replace the A300-600ST fleet which will be used by the airframer’s logistics operation, to move large sections of aircraft between 11 of its manufacturing and assembly sites in Europe.
The BelugaXL allows for 30% extra transport capacity, being seven meters longer and one meter wider than its BelugaST predecessor.
According to Airbus, the Beluga XL has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide; enabling it to carry two A350 XWB wings compared to the BelugaST, which can carry one. The aircraft, which is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines, can carry up to 51 tonnes and has a range of 4,000km.
The aircraft gets its stamp of approval following an intensive flight test campaign, that saw the BelugaXL complete more than 200 flight tests, clocking over 700 flight hours.
Airbus plans to build six aircraft between 2019 and 2023, gradually replacing the current fleet of BelugaST transporters.