Airbus’ next-generation oversize cargo airlifter is transitioning from concept to reality as the first Beluga XL core airframe starts its 18-month integration process in Toulouse, France.
The core airframe which is based on the A330, was assembled in December without a nose fuselage or tail assembly – both of which will be added during activity planned in 2017.
Integration of the Beluga XL core airframe will be performed inside the two-section L34 building at Airbus’ Lagardère industrial zone, which is adjacent to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.
A total of five Beluga XL airlifters will be built, with the first to enter service in 2019. They will gradually replace the existing fleet of Beluga ST aircraft, which were derived from the shorter-fuselage A300.
The Beluga XL which can carry a full set of A350 XWB wings is expected to provide crucial support to Airbus’ production ramp-up.