Toulouse - As the production of BelugaXL continues, Airbus adds a new plane to the fleet. The Beluga XL number 2 is now ready to take off. The aircraft manufacturer aims to increase the productivity on its internal transportation network with its new generation heavy transporters.
The first BelugaXL carried out the maiden flight in July 2018 and is now being used in compatibility and verification tests on routes between the locations in the manufacturer's production network across Europe.
As part of these tests, the aircraft transported two A350XWB wings from Bremen, Germany to Toulouse, France. This month, the second transporter was painted at the company's Toulouse factory.
Airbus's new generation heavy transporter will officially enter service later this year.
Five planes had been initially planned, but the manufacturer has increased this number to six since the European Aierospace giant decided to increase the production rate of its passenger planes.
“Years from now, we could see situations such as further rate increases for our jetliners or may encounter one of the airlifters being grounded, which would make this ‘extra’ sixth aircraft an essential part of our transport network,” said Bertrand George, head of the BelugaXL program at Airbus.
The BelugaXL fleet will be fully operational by 2023 and replace Airbus’ current BelugaST fleet.
However, it doesn't mean the current five Belugas in service will cease operations.
"The five Belugas can go on for at least another ten to twenty years," Bertrand George added.
Airbus considers two future scenarios for its older generation Belugas. One option is to sell the planes to the freight companies that are specialized in heavy cargo transportation.
The other option is to keep the aircraft and to offer cargo flights for third parties.