Massive Airbus plane debuts with a giant smile
July 19, 2018 -- European aerospace giant Airbus has conducted the first test flight of the giant new Beluga XL, an even bigger version of the company's workhorse transport plane which has been in service since the mid 1990s. Decorated for the occasion as a "whale in the sky", the plane is due to enter into service in 2019.
Beluga XL A330-700L measures six metres longer and one metre wider than predecessor, offering 30% more capacity. Airbus says that at 19 metres tall the plane is as big as a three-storey house and can carry up to 53 tonnes of cargo, the equivalent of seven adult male elephants.
The Beluga XL is big enough to carry both wings of the Airbus A350 simultaneously, from manufacturing sites across Europe to final assembly lines in Germany, France and China.
Despite its remarkable size, the Beluga XL will not be the largest super-transporter ploughing through the skies. Boeing, for example, has its own big beast – the Dreamlifter.
Based on the 747-400, with an enlarged fuselage, it can actually lift a greater weight than the Beluga, but the XL’s wider cross section allows it to carry bigger components.