French manufacturer Airbus SE released images showing the new Airbus BelugaXL engineless but ready to be painted. The BelugaXL will be used for Airbus’ own aircraft part transport as the older Belugas have begun to age. One notable difference is that the BelugaXL is modeled off the A330 while the older version uses the A300, an aircraft which is used by only a handful of airlines along with cargo carriers MNG, UPS, and FedEx, as its base. The BelugaXL promises efficiency and range and most importantly space, the extra space will allow Airbus to transport more parts to and from their base in Toulouse, France to 11 partners around Europe.
Introduction of the XL will support the development forecasts for Airbus’s major programs, mostly the A350-900, the A350-1000, and the A330neo. The first two aircraft will be delivered to Airbus’s Beluga operator ATI by 2019, then one per year from 2020 till all five have been delivered. Airbus plans to have all five of the aircraft flying by mid-2022. The company will begin to phase out the current version in 2021.
The cost of the BelugaXL program has not been disclosed by Airbus. BelugaXL program chief Bertrand George said, “We had very challenging targets to achieve so that it cost a minimum to us.”
Airbus seems to be in hot water economically with the A380, demand for which has stalled. The only current aircraft in production is for Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA). The aircraft will be used to grow the airline’s Tokyo-Honolulu route. The cost of operating the A380 is not in consideration for many airlines and are only operated by world-class legacy carriers like Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, and Lufthansa. The BelugaXL will make aircraft production even faster and help Airbus meet its customers’ needs with ease.
Featured image by AeroTendencias/YouTube