AIRBUS' sixth and final Beluga XL has taken to the skies for the first time.

Over the weekend, the huge transporter plane made its maiden flight - five years since the first XL took to the skies.

Airbus said on social media on Saturday: "A BIG week for our Beluga XL! As our 6th and final gentle giant takes to the skies for the first time today, we also celebrate 5 years since the first flight of our much loved first outsized super transporter!

"We can’t wait to see her join her XL siblings flying aircraft sections between Airbus production sites and supporting outsized cargo missions!"

The Beluga XL first landed at Broughton in October 2021, with a fleet of six aircraft planned to be operational by the end of 2023. 


They will replace the remainder of the current BelugaST fleet - which cannot cope with production growth. 

The Leader:

In addition to the significant use of existing components and equipment including Rolls Royce’s Trent 772B engines, the Airbus A330-based BelugaXL fleet incorporates newly-developed elements –including its lowered cockpit, a highly-enlarged cargo bay structure, and modified rear and tail section.

Sized at seven metres longer and one metre wider than its BelugaST predecessor, the BelugaXL provides 30% extra transport capacity. As an example, a BelugaXL can accommodate two A350 jetliner wings, compared to one in the BelugaST.

With a maximum payload of 51 tonnes, the BelugaXL has a range of 4,000 km (2,200 nm).

Thanks to new efficiency in systems, the turn-around time (TAT) for the BelugaXL is approximately 1 hour, reduced by almost half when compared to a BelugaST. 

The Leader: