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Airbus' massive BelugaXL completes maiden flight

by Justin King

The strange shape will allow the BelugaXL to carry entire wings and fuselage sections, transporting the components between global factories.

Airbus has completed its maiden flight for the new BelugaXL, a massive cargo aircraft that will be used to transport components for service and assembly.

Serving as a replacement for the smaller Beluga ST and based on the A330-200 Freighter, the XL edition has been designed to carry large aircraft components.

A massive 8.8-meter fuselage sits above the unique lowered cockpit, providing enough room for two A350 wings, an A330 fuselage section or the A380's tail empennage.

Airbus will use the planned fleet of five BelugaXLs to carry components from factories throughout Europe to the final assembly line in Toulouse, France.

Despite its massive appearance, the BelugaXL's 53-ton payload pales in comparison to the 150 tons of cargo that can be carried by the Antonov An-124.