Putting an end to a process started in December 2016, the first Airbus Beluga XL transport aircraft has left the assembly line. This means that its structure is complete, although there is still a lack of installation of the engines and parts of the fairing, among other things.
Once the engines are installed, it will have several months ahead of time to check that all the systems are working correctly before it can carry out a first flight, scheduled for mid-2018.
Based on the A330-200 the Beluga XL has a load capacity of 53 tonnes compared to 47 of the current Beluga, but also offers a greater volume of cargo, so it is able to transport two parts of a A350 at a time instead of just one. In fact when it enters into service, which is planned for 2019, it will be one of the most voluminous in the world.
Airbus plans to build five of these aircraft that will fly side by side for at least five years with the Beluga that it currently uses.