Airbus’ super transporter rolls off the assembly line
06 April 2018
The BelugaXL is one of the largest aircraft in existence and the first structurally complete airframe made its appearance outside the hanger a few months ago.
Once completed, the super transporter will be responsible for moving completed sections of Airbus aircraft across its European production sites and to its final assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.
The design takes its inspiration from the Airbus A330-200 jetliner. “We have the A330 as a foundation,” said Bertrand George, head of the BelugaXL programme, “but many changes have been successfully designed, introduced into the aircraft and tested. Transforming an existing product into a super transporter is not a simple task.”
The BelugaXL is expected to be airborne by mid-2018 but before that, it will undergo months of testing after two jet engines have been installed. All the while, said George, “we will perform bench tests in Toulouse and Hamburg, Germany – testing our systems on flight simulators and in laboratories” as well as using hydraulic jacks to simulate flight loads on full-scale copies of specific joints between the new upper bubble and A330’s lower fuselage.
“The data from these tests will be used to clear the aircraft for flight and, later on, to attain type certification,” the official pronouncement of the aircraft’s safety and airworthiness, said George.