Airbus announced that its BelugaXL transport aircraft received its type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Wednesday. According to Airbus, the model completed more than 200 flight tests for a total of over 700 flight hours during its flight test campaign. The BelugaXL is expected to enter service in early 2020.
Based on the A330-200, the BelugaXL is seven meters (23 feet) longer and one meter (three feet) wider than its predecessor, the BelugaST. Airbus plans to build a total of six BelugaXLs by 2023 to replace its current fleet of five STs. The company says the XLs will primarily be used to transport large aircraft components from its production sites around Europe to final assembly lines in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany.
The BelugaXL has a maximum payload of 51 metric tons and range of 2200 NM. It is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines. As previously reported by AVweb, the aircraft flew for the first time in July 2018.