Airbus announced that its third BelugaXL freighter, specifically designed to carry oversize cargo, has entered into service.
The cargo aircraft, based on the Airbus A330, made its first flight on July 2, 2020. Registered as F-GXLI, the third BelugaXL embarked on its first service flight from Toulouse Blagnac Airport (TLS) to Chester Hawarden Airport (CEG) on October 26, 2020. The freighter departed TLS at 11:04 AM local time (UTC +1) as flight BGA214I.
The freighter was built to carry various cargo from and to Airbus manufacturing sites across Europe and North America, including oversize aircraft parts.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the Airbus BelugaXL in November 2019. The first whale-named aircraft entered service on January 13, 2020. The program was launched in November 2014.
Airbus third specially-built cargo aircraft continues to add capacity to its transportation portfolio. The three BelugaXL’s are joined by the Beluga, which is based on the Airbus A300-600, the manufacturer’s first aircraft family. The Airbus A300-600 made its first flight in 1983, entering service the same year. The Toulouse-based manufacturer planned to introduce six BelugaXL aircraft through 2023, in order to increase the eventual ramp-up of production of Airbus commercial aircraft, as the A330-based variant can carry up to 30% more cargo onboard. According to an Airbus representative, the plans to introduce the remaining three BelugaXL’s are still on track.