Airbus’ supersized whale took to the skies for the first time today in Toulouse, spending 4 hours 14 minutes above southern France. The BelugaXL will join the current Beluga fleet in moving Airbus aircraft components between production sites. The BelugaXL is 30% larger than the Beluga, enabling it to carry two A350 wings at a time rather than just one.

The BelugaXL is based on the A330 airframe, with significant structural modifications to the fuselage and empennage. The original Beluga, of which 5 were produced, is based on the Airbus A300. Airbus plans to produce five BelugaXLs as it phases out the Beluga from use over the coming years.

First Flight

BelugaXL number 1 (reg F-WBXL | MSN 1824) departed on first flight at 08:30 UTC and spent 4 hours 14 minutes aloft before returning to Toulouse. The first flight crew consisted of two pilots, Christophe Cail, Captain and Bernardo Saez-Benito Hernandez, First Officer; and three engineers, Jean Michel Pin, test flight engineer; Philippe Foucault and Laurent Lapierre, flight test engineers.

First Flight Images

BelugaXL-First-Flight-Air-To-Air-033 BelugaXL-First-Flight-Take-Off-012 BelugaXL-First-Flight-Air-To-Air-045 BelugaXL-First-Flight-Low-Pass-002 Beluga-First-Flight-Arrival-001 BelugaXL-First-Flight-Landing-010 BelugaXL-First-Flight-Air-To-Air-046 BelugaXL-First-Flight-take-off Beluga-First-Flight-static-display-01

Images of first flight courtesy Airbus

Featured photo © Eurospot

Ian Petchenik’s love of aviation began at an early age growing up next to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. As Flightradar24’s director of communications and co-host of the AvTalk podcast Ian now gets to share that passion for aviation with millions of Flightradar24 users and listeners around the world.

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