August 15, 2022
ILA 2022 Berlin Air Show: Airbus A350 XWB, Beluga XL (+Photos)
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ILA 2022 Berlin Air Show: Airbus A350 XWB, Beluga XL (+Photos)

BERLIN – Greetings from the ILA 2022 Berlin International Air Show in Germany. As it’s the first edition since the pandemic, ILA has been more of a “hybrid” airshow—limited aircraft and a controlled crowd.

While on the commercial side, the European planemaker Airbus did bring in two of its most prominent models, the Airbus A350-900 XWB ‘World Explorer’ and the flying whale, the Beluga XL. This post is more of a walking image tour of the two birds.

It’s often you only stand level with an A350 and walk through a jet bridge to get onboard but when on the ground and right under her belly the perspective is surely different, the same goes with the Beluga only, she’s larger – nothing but sheer bulk.

The A350 World Explorer

MSN002 is one of Airbus’ test aircraft that demonstrates new onboard cabin upgrades and technologies that could be part of all future Airspace cabins. The ‘Airspace Explorer’ often makes its way across the globe, especially during airshows to portray the A350 itself and the state-of-the-art cabin developments.

Some of the key developments are the Eco- friendly carpet – made from 100% regenerated nylon which is fully recyclable at the end of life. Inward or concave designed windows to reduce overall drag on the aircraft skin as it’s embedded in the curve.

Electro dimmable windows, which were first featured on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, completely eliminate the need for manual shades which also reduces overall weight.

Here’s a close-up glimpse of this eight-year-old flagship Airbus A350.

Airbus is trying out new projectors that can jut out films, videos, and any required information onto the overhead ceiling and compartments with bright intensity, while the Internet of Things (IoT) helps with overall maintenance. Each and every seat has numerous sensors that indicate various information to the cabin crew.

Photo: Airbus
Photo: Airbus
Photo: Airbus

For example, The crew can glance at their screens in the galley if anyone hasn’t fastened their seatbelts. It eliminates the need to physically walk and inspect each and every person. Not to forget the intelligent smart trolley that tracks and plans all the meal runs for passengers.

The Beluga XL

We now move to the A350’s neighbor, the Airbus Beluga XL. Built on the Airbus A330-200 platform, this bird is six meters longer than its former Beluga ST, with a cargo volume of over 2,200 m3. It features an enlarged fuselage “bubble” section that allows it to carry larger aircraft parts, including a full Airbus A350 wing set, between European airports from either Toulouse (TLS) or Hamburg (XFW).

A modified tailplane was installed to provide the necessary stability characteristics. The Beluga XL is one of the largest flying birds in the sky that’s powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent engines, taking it up to FL 350. At present, there are four Beluga XLs (XL1, XL2, XL3 & XL4) in the fleet and five standard Belugas.

Enjoy the remaining shots of the Beluga XL.

The Antonov AN-225 was the largest transport aircraft until some months ago, before it was destroyed during the battle of Hostomel Airport. Although the AN-124 still flies, there remains a void for outsized cargo carriers, and could Airbus fill it up with the older Airbus Beluga ST?

In January, Airbus decided to charter out its Beluga STs to third-party clients. Until recently, it was busy shuttling Airbus aircraft parts around Europe.

“The Beluga STs are only at 50% of their life. They have been designed for 30,000 flight cycles and currently have an average of 15,000,” said Philippe Sabo, head of Airbus Transport International, as stated on CNN.

Stay tuned to Airways for more coverage of ILA 2022 from Berlin.

Featured image and photos: Siddharth Ganesh unless otherwise noted.

EASA commercial pilot | Flight Instructor | Aviation Journalist & writer based in Germany.

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