Third Airbus Beluga XL Breaks Cover

The third example of Airbus’ Beluga XL transport aircraft has been rolled out the paint shop in Toulouse for the first time.

The jet – which is based on an A330 – has been painted in a special scheme that includes whale-like features, a nod to its marine counterpart. F-GXLI (c/n 1930) is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 turbofan engines.

Airbus Beluga XL
The Airbus Beluga XL is developed from the A330-200. Airbus 

The manufacturer is now halfway through its production cycle for the latest generation Beluga, having produced three out of the six it plans to make.

The Beluga XL is a larger version of the original aircraft. It first flew in July 2018 and entered service with Airbus in January this year.

Airbus Beluga XL
The horizontal stabiliser has additional vertical fins which are designed to maintain directional stability. Airbus

It’s thought the previous five Beluga aircraft, which were first introduced in 1995, will be withdrawn from use over the next five years, with a mixed fleet being operated until then.

All six of the new-generation freighters are expected to be in service by the end of 2023.

Airbus Beluga XL
F-GXLI (c/n 1930) has been painted in a special Airbus colour scheme which features aspects of the type's marine counterpart. Airbus