in General Aviation

First BelugaXL transporter rolls off assembly line

Posted 9 January 2018 · Add Comment

The first structurally complete airframe for the new BelugaXL rolled out from its assembly hangar in Toulouse, France this month.

Once operational, a fleet of these next-generation airlifters will be used to transport completed sections of Airbus aircraft among the company’s European production sites and to its final assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.

The BelugaXL is one of the most voluminous aircraft in existence, and everything about it speaks to that fact. With a bulging upper forward fuselage and enormous cargo area, the BelugaXL is hardly recognizable as the outsized airlifter version of the Airbus A330-200 jetliner from which it is derived. “We have the A330 as a foundation,” said Bertrand George, head of the BelugaXL programme, “but many changes have been successfully designed, introduced into the aircraft and tested. Transforming an existing product into a super transporter is not a simple task.”

This initial BelugaXL is expected to be flying by mid-2018. “The whole team is really looking forward to seeing its first flight and, of course, its smiling livery,” said George, referring to the supersized smile that will be painted across the ‘face’ of the transporter, the winning design of six options presented to Airbus employees for a vote in early 2017.

Ground testing for the No. 1 BelugaXL before first flight

Before that can happen, the aircraft will undergo a months-long battery of tests after installation of its two jet engines, ensuring each of the BelugaXL’s systems function as intended. All the while, said George, “We will perform bench tests in Toulouse and Hamburg, Germany – testing our systems on flight simulators and in laboratories” as well as using hydraulic jacks to simulate flight loads on full-scale copies of specific joints between the new upper bubble and A330’s lower fuselage. 

“The data from these tests will be used to clear the aircraft for flight and, later on, to attain type certification,” the official pronouncement of the aircraft’s safety and airworthiness, said George.

While the first structurally complete BelugaXL moves into its testing phase, the second A330 to be converted into a BelugaXL arrived on schedule in Toulouse to begin its integration process. George noted that with lessons learned from the production of the first transporter, the assembly time for the second is expected to be about two months shorter.

The BelugaXL programme was launched in November 2014 to address Airbus’ increasing transport requirements. At six metres longer, one metre wider and with a payload lifting capacity six tonnes greater than the BelugaST transporter version it is replacing, the BelugaXL will be able to transport both wings of the A350 XWB jetliner at once, instead of the single wing currently accommodated on the BelugaST. All told, five BelugaXLs are scheduled to enter service for Airbus’ airlift needs.

Once operational, a fleet of these next-generation airlifters will be used to transport completed sections of Airbus aircraft among the company’s European production sites and to its final assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.

The BelugaXL is one of the most voluminous aircraft in existence, and everything about it speaks to that fact. With a bulging upper forward fuselage and enormous cargo area, the BelugaXL is hardly recognizable as the outsized airlifter version of the Airbus A330-200 jetliner from which it is derived. “We have the A330 as a foundation,” said Bertrand George, head of the BelugaXL programme, “but many changes have been successfully designed, introduced into the aircraft and tested. Transforming an existing product into a super transporter is not a simple task.” 

This initial BelugaXL is expected to be flying by mid-2018. “The whole team is really looking forward to seeing its first flight and, of course, its smiling livery,” said George, referring to the supersized smile that will be painted across the ‘face’ of the transporter, the winning design of six options presented to Airbus employees for a vote in early 2017.

Ground testing for the No. 1 BelugaXL before first flight

Before that can happen, the aircraft will undergo a months-long battery of tests after installation of its two jet engines, ensuring each of the BelugaXL’s systems function as intended. All the while, said George, “We will perform bench tests in Toulouse and Hamburg, Germany – testing our systems on flight simulators and in laboratories” as well as using hydraulic jacks to simulate flight loads on full-scale copies of specific joints between the new upper bubble and A330’s lower fuselage

“The data from these tests will be used to clear the aircraft for flight and, later on, to attain type certification,” the official pronouncement of the aircraft’s safety and airworthiness, said George.

While the first structurally complete BelugaXL moves into its testing phase, the second A330 to be converted into a BelugaXL arrived on schedule in Toulouse to begin its integration process. George noted that with lessons learned from the production of the first transporter, the assembly time for the second is expected to be about two months shorter.

The BelugaXL programme was launched in November 2014 to address Airbus’ increasing transport requirements. At six metres longer, one metre wider and with a payload lifting capacity six tonnes greater than the BelugaST transporter version it is replacing, the BelugaXL will be able to transport both wings of the A350 XWB jetliner at once, instead of the single wing currently accommodated on the BelugaST. All told, five BelugaXLs are scheduled to enter service for Airbus’ airlift needs.

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Latest News

Tiger wants the Russians to roar

Tiger Aviation Services (TAS) started its ground-handling services with just four staff in a small office at Cairo International Airport nearly three decades ago.

Bombardier sees increasing demand for pre-owned aircraft in Africa

At the African Aviation Finance conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft reflected on the development of the African Regional Aircraft market, stating that it was seeing a surge in demand in Africa for

Embraer Phenom to make impact with debuts at EBACE

Embraer will debut the Phenom 100EV business jet at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 29 to May 31.

Ethiopian marks African aviation history with 100th aircraft in active service

Ethiopian Airlines and SKYTRAX have announced that it will take delivery on June 5 2018 of its 100th aircraft, a Boeing 787-900, making it the first African airline to operate a 100 aircraft fleet in the history of the continent.

Kenya turns to crop dusters to turbo charge its forces

Kenya’s requirement for new light attack/armed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft has been dogged by controversy. Jon Lake attempts to unravel a complicated situation.

Air BP expands its network with six new locations in Africa

Air BP has collaborated with Vivo Energy to grow its network in Africa, adding six new locations: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, Abidjan-Felix-Houphouet-Boigny International Airport, Nelson Mandela

TAA SK0902311218
See us at
AirCargoAFA_BT220318210219GroundHandling BT2205130918AAD2018 BT