MIAMI – The Airbus 330-200F derived Beluga XL4, the fourth of a series of six, took to the sky for the first time on Tuesday, July 20, from its home base airport of Toulouse-Blagnac (TLS).

The Smiling Beluga

The aircraft, developed by Airbus for its own in-house needs, is the successor of the A300-600ST Beluga and its production is slated to replace the Beluga ST over a 2019 to 2025 period of time.

The Beluga XL has a hold 6m (19.6ft) longer and 1m (3.2ft) wider compared to its predecessor, can carry a maximum load of over 53 tons on a maximum distance of 4000km (2160nm).

The aircraft has a typical livery, the Smiling Beluga, inspired by a white cetacean with a wide smile painted along the windshield line and is used to transport large aircraft parts from the production facilities to the Final Assembly Lines (FAL) both in TLS and Hamburg (HAM).

Airbus Beluga XL taxying in Toulouse. Photo: Airbus Media

Featured image: Airbus Beluga XL in flight. Photo: Airbus Media