The BelugaXL Takes Its First Flight

Jul 19, 2018

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Airbus’ newest aircraft completed its maiden voyage today. The first Airbus BelugaXL took off from Toulouse, France (TLS) and successfully completed its first test flight.

Airbus teased the voyage on social media for the aircraft that’s sole purpose is to ferry oversized airplane parts around the globe.

The plane, which can carry more than 50 tons of cargo, took off from Toulouse Blagnac Airport at 10:30am local time.

It made a low pass over the airfield all with the original Beluga, the BelugaXL’s smaller predecessor, in the foreground. The XL, based off the A330-200, is 30% larger than the Beluga.

The aircraft can carry two A350 wings inside with a maximum range of 4,000 kilometers (about 2,485 miles). Registered F-WBXL, the bird was tracked by FlightRadar24 while it circled over southern France and the Mediterranean Sea.

Airbus flew another aircraft alongside it to capture the plane that looks like no other. Airbus employees voted on the aircraft’s livery that’s designed to resemble the aircraft’s namesake, a Beluga whale.

After four hours and 15 minutes in flight, it landed safely back in Toulouse.

Airbus celebrated the inaugural voyage and opened up the plane’s nose — putting the flight crew in their orange jump suits on full display.

The crew of an Airbus 'BelugaXL' aircraft salute Airbus employees at Toulouse-Blagnac on July 19, 2018, after its maiden test flight of some four hours. - The Beluga XL, the new cargo plane of the Airbus family has taken off from Blagnac, in the south of France, for its first test flight. The launch of the aircraft triggered thunderous applause in an audience of more than 10,000 people, mostly employees and subcontractors of the European aircraft manufacturer. (Photo by ERIC CABANIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)
The crew of an Airbus ‘BelugaXL’ aircraft salute Airbus employees at Toulouse-Blagnac on July 19, 2018, after its maiden test flight of some four hours. (Photo by ERIC CABANIS / AFP / Getty Images)

The first XL will go into regular service in 2019. By 2025, the fleet of Belugas will have been phased out of service, being replaced by five XLs.

Featured image by Getty Images. 

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