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New Airbus Beluga XL makes its first operational flight

Toulouse, France - Airbus' new heavy cargo aircraft has entered into service. The Beluga XL carried out its first operational flight on January 9.

The new BelugaXL is able to transport 30% more cargo compared with the with the previous model Beluga ST. It can carry two A350XWB wings at a time against one that Beluga ST can transport.

Five more BelugaXL will enter into service between 2020 and 2023. Airbus plans to sell its ST variants to the cargo operators that are interested in operating them.

The aircraft has obtained certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in November 2019, following an intense certification campaign around 700 flight hours performed in 200 flight tests.

Beluga XL is based on Airbus' A330-200 freighter and powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines. The aircraft was named as "Beluga", a white-colored Arctic whale because of its distinctive fat shape.

The aircraft will transport aircraft parts between 11 Airbus facilities in Europe.