Airbus Beluga XL Takes Shape

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The next-generation Airbus airlifter, the Beluga XL, is now under construction in France. The company recently posted a photo of the first of the fleet, on the assembly line. “It will take some 12 months to shape the core airframe of our next airlifter,” Airbus said. The company said it plans to build five of the Beluga aircraft, which it will operate in support of the A350 WXB ramp-up and other production increases. The first will enter service in mid-2019.

The Beluga XL is derived from the Airbus A330 widebody. The XL fleet will operate in parallel with the existing five-aircraft A300-600ST fleet, which will then be progressively retired through 2025, the company said.

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