MIAMI — Airbus has announced today the production startup of its Beluga XL Super Transporter, paving the way for the final assembly scheduled to start in early 2017.

The first cut of the Beluga XL took place in Spain, after completing the detailed design phase. According to the airframer, the rear fuselage section is produced by Aernnova, and it will be the first section to be delivered to the A330 Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France.


Launched in November 2014, the Beluga XL is based on the Airbus A330-200 platform, with a large re-use of existing components and equipment, and it will be powered with Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines.

The new Super Transporters will come on time to address the capacity requirements ahead of the ramp-up production of the A350 XWB and other aircraft production rate increases, besides replacing the current Beluga fleet in service since 1996 with Airbus Transport International (ATI).

According to Airbus, the fleet of five Beluga XL aircraft will provide Airbus with an additional 30 percent extra transport capacity when compared to the A300-600ST Super Transporters in service with ATI.

Currently, the Beluga ferries complete sections of Airbus aircraft, produced at various sites around Europe, to the final assembly lines in Toulouse, Hamburg and Seville.