FARNBOROUGH — European manufacturer Airbus has announced that today their brand new transport aircraft the Beluga XL has completed its maiden flight.

The XL is Airbus’ solution to help them deal with the ramp up in the production of the A350 and the increase in demand for Single-Aisle production.

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The flight, which lasted four hours and 11 minutes, was flown by a crew of five, with Captain Christophe Cail, Co-Pilot Saez-Benito Hernandez and Test-Flight Engineer Jean Michel Pin in the cockpit, and Laurent Lapierre and Philippe Foucault in the back, the latter duo who were monitoring the aircraft systems and Performance in real time at the flight-test engineers (FTE) station.

The Beluga XL is due to undergo around 600 hours of flights tests over the coming 10 months at which point if all goes to plan will see the plane get a type certification and entry into service in late 2019.

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Once in service, the aircraft will be operated from 11 destinations across Europe. Five of the new Beluga XL aircraft will be built from 2019 to 2023 and will be pushed into service gradually replacing the five BelugaST’s currently in service for Airbus.

The Beluga is based on the A330-200 Freighter and is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines with a Load capacity of 51 tonnes.

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The aircraft has the ability to carry two A350 XWB wings at the same time, while the current BelugaST is only able to carry one at a time.

Additionally, it has an overall length of 63.1meters, a height of 18.9m, a wingspan of 60.3m, all of which give the aircraft a very impressive 227 tonnes Maximum Take-off Weight.