The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced its intention to develop a lightweight version of its new aircraft for oversized cargo Beluga XL. Such development will allow to avoid excessively high airport charges for escort during landing and navigation service.
Most modern airports rely on service charges for dispatching support during landing and navigation services based on the passport maximum take-off weight of the aircraft, rather than their actual weight with cargo indicated in the flight declaration.
Airbus Beluga XL transport aircraft, designed specifically for transporting various aircraft parts, including wing consoles, have a maximum take-off weight of 227 tons. At the same time, they will rarely be loaded to this indicator. In order to reduce airport taxes, the maximum take-off weight of Beluga XL is planned to be reduced to 205 tons.
The Airbus Beluga XL cargo aircraft project was launched in November 2014. The basis of the aircraft laid liner A330-200. The new aircraft will be able to transport cargo weighing up to 53 tons. The Beluga XL is 63.10 m long, its wingspan is 60.30 m, and its height is 18.90 m. The plane will be able to fly to a distance of 4,000 km with a full load.
Airbus intends to transport the wings of A350 XWB passenger liners with the new aircraft. In one such aircraft fit two fully assembled wing consoles. Currently, the concern owns five Beluga cargo aircraft built in 1992-1999 on the basis of the A300 airliner. These aircraft can only carry one console wing A350 XWB.
The first flight of the Beluga XL took place on July 19, 2018 in Toulouse in southwest France. Currently, the aircraft is undergoing certification tests, which are scheduled to be completed next year. The delivery of the first new aircraft is also scheduled for 2019.