LONDON – Aircraft manufacturing juggernaut Airbus announced this week that its new BelugaXL has entered service.

The aircraft will operate alongside Airbus’ existing five BelugaST’s that were based of the old Airbus A300 platform.

The BelugaXL, based off of the newer Airbus A330-200 Freighter platform, will provide an additional 30% capacity which will help Airbus support the on-going production ramp-up of its commercial aircraft programmes.

Such as the Airbus A320 Family, Airbus A330 Family, Airbus A350 Family and the Airbus A380 Family, which the A380 program is soon due to end production due to lack of demand for a supersized aircraft.

Just like the BelugaST, the BelugaXL will operate to the 11 destinations in Europe and will help strengthen Airbus’ industrial capabilities.

The BelugaXL officially entered service on January 9th 2020 flying from Toulouse, France to Bremen, Germany, to Chester, United Kingdom and back to Toulouse in the late evening.

The only BelugaXL in service currently is registered as F-GXLH, this is the first of six BelugaXL’s that Airbus will build.

Back in November 2014, Airbus had launched the BelugaXL program and five years later, the aircraft had received its Type Certification in November 2019 from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The Type Certification was granted after more than 200 extensive test flights and 700 flying hours.

Compared to the older BelugaST, the BelugaXL is 63 metres long and 8 metres wide which enables the aircraft to have the largest cargo bay cross-section than any other existing cargo aircraft worldwide.

It also has a maximum cargo capacity of 51 tonnes and has a flying range of 4,000km (2200nm).

This is a big step for Airbus, especially in the wake of its backlog, maximising the ways it can begin to bring the number down and get more deliveries under its belt.

It recorded 863 deliveries in 2019, so with the help of the BelugaXL, it may encourage delivery numbers nearer to 950-1000 units in one year, which would be substantial for the manufacturer.