BelugaXL number two

The second BelugaXL at Toulouse following roll-out. One of the current-generation BelugaST aircraft the BelugaXL will replace can be seen in the background.
B Ziegler/Airbus

The second Airbus A330-743L BelugaXL F-WBXS (msn 1853) recently rolled out at Toulouse, as work continues to bring the new generation of the oversize airlifter into service. The first BelugaXL, F-WBXL (msn 1824), flew in July 2018, but the second jet is set to be the first BelugaXL to enter operational service transporting fuselage sections and wings between Airbus production sites around Europe.

BelugaXL number two will be used for the bulk of the tests required to obtain the supplementary type certificate for the aircraft, and for most function and reliability tests to validate BelugaXL operations at Airbus’ different sites. The second aircraft will also be used for acceptance trials by Airbus Transport International, the in-house subsidiary of Airbus that operates the current-generation BelugaST.

The first BelugaXL will join F-WBXS in this operability work after completing certification testing and having flight-test instrumentation removed. Indeed, in February 2019 F-WBXL was the first to carry a set of A350 wings from Bremen to Toulouse in a key test of the new, larger Beluga’s capabilities (the BelugaXL can carry two A350 wings at a time, double the capacity of the BelugaST).

Certification and service entry of the BelugaXL is scheduled for later in 2019. Last year, Airbus said that after F-WBXS enters service aircraft three (registration and serial number to be confirmed), due to enter the conversion process in Toulouse this year, will be the second BelugaXL to enter service next year, with F-WBXL following on as the third example to enter service. The fourth and fifth examples are due to be introduced in 2021 and 2022.