MIAMI— The Airbus Beluga XL has reached the end of the concept phase, a major milestone in the program that now moves to the detailed design phase.

“We are proud of how much we have accomplished, in less than a year after the launch of the program, with the new and innovative way of working with our suppliers” said Bertrand George, Head of Beluga XL program.

Airbus assures that the fleet of five Beluga XL will provide the manufacturer an additional 30 percent extra capacity compared to the current Beluga fleet in service, which is operated by Airbus Transport International (ATI), an Airbus subsidiary airline.

With a workforce of 200 people, ATI holds seven airworthiness agreements required to support its fleet and unique know-how in the airline world. Therefore, it is capable of independently training its pilots and mechanics and can elaborate, produce and apply its own aircraft modification and repair solutions. It also has the competences to manage and maintain its fleet.

The Next Generation of Airbus Super Transporters

Launched in November 2014 as a replacement of the A300-600ST Super Transporters, and to cope with the logistics as aircraft production rates increase, the Beluga XL is based on the A330-200 freighter, from which takes most of its components and equipment. The new generation of Super Transporters will be powered with Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines.

Final assembly is anticipated to start in 2017 and entry into service is expected to occur two years later.

Nicknamed the Beluga, the Airbus A300-600ST was designed specifically to replace the Super Guppy (a converted Boeing 377 Stratocruiser) in Airbus’ own industrial system. In dedicated service since January 1996, the Beluga fleet ferry complete sections of Airbus aircraft, produced at various sites around Europe, to the final assembly lines located in Toulouse, Hamburg and Seville.