The giant new Airbus freighter, which looks like a whale, is now fully operational

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Airbus Beluga XL


  • The Airbus Beluga cargo aircraft fleet has the task of transporting large parts of Airbus aircraft for final assembly.

  • The latest and largest variant of the company, the BelugaXL, was only put into operation in January and is now flying full-time.

  • The current fleet of five Airbus A300-600ST has been in service for 20 years.

  • Further information can be found on the Business Insider homepage.

Airbus’ latest aircraft, which regular passengers cannot fly, is now flying all day in Europe.

The BelugaXL cargo plane has just been put into operation and is now carrying Airbus cargo after months of test flights, CNN reported.

The Beluga is a cargo aircraft that can be used to transport large parts of Airbus aircraft from suppliers across Europe to their assembly plants in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany.

It flies parts as large as the middle and rear fuselage of an Airbus A320 or the wing of an A350 wide-body aircraft. Airbus also uses a fleet of barges and trucks to move components across Europe.

The BelugaXL will take over the current generation of the A300-600ST Beluga, which has been in use for two decades. Since the BelugaXL is based on the Airbus A330-200F, it is larger and has a larger loading capacity. It is expected to offer superior performance than its predecessor.

The beluga derives its name from the whale it is strikingly similar to. In fact, the new BelugaXL is even painted to resemble the animal.

According to Airbus, it was decided to build the BelugaXL in November 2014 to meet the increased transportation and capacity requirements that the company expects to see in the years after 2019.

Take a closer look at the Airbus Beluga and BelugaXL here.

Benjamin Zhang contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Airbus has to move a large number of components to its assembly plants in France and Germany. This includes entire aircraft sections.

Airbus A320 Hamburg plant

Airbus In the early days, Airbus used the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser-based guppy transport aircraft.

Aero Spacelines Guppy Airbus

Flickr / Alan WilsonAirbus has used an airplane called Beluga since the mid-1990s. It is based on the company’s A300-600 commercial aircraft and is officially called A300-600ST Beluga.

Airbus Beluga transport plane

AirbusAirbus currently operates a fleet of five Belugas, which are to be replaced by the BelugaXLs.

Airbus A300 600ST Beluga

Airbus The Beluga and its round cargo hold have serious traction.

Airbus Beluga Transport

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images This includes entire sections of the fuselage.

Airbus Beluga

Airbus or the tail fins.

Airbus Beluga transport plane

AirbusBoeing also uses a fleet of specialized transport aircraft to move large components. They are called Being 747-400LCF Dreamlifter.

Boeing Dreamlifter cargo plane

The next generation Beluga, the BelugaXL, was launched in June 2018 and only flew full-time after certification by the European Aviation Authority.

Airbus Beluga XL

AirbusEs is based on the Airbus A330-200F freighter.

Airbus A330 200F maiden flight

Airbus Here it is under construction.

Airbus Beluga XL

AirbusThe oversized aircraft enables two Airbus A350 XWB wings to be transported at the same time.

Airbus BelugaXL maiden flight Air To Air 074

According to AirbusAirbus, the cargo hold of the BelugaXL has the largest cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft.

First BelugaXL delivered to ATI – On ground_

Airbus The BelugaXL is also 20 feet longer and its cargo space is more than three feet wider than its predecessor. It can also carry 110,000 pounds of cargo.

Airbus Beluga XL

Airbus The aircraft primarily transports cargo between Airbus’ manufacturing facilities in Europe, including Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany.

Airbus Beluga XL


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