If you’re local to the area then I’m sure the Beluga XL, dubbed as the “cutest plane ever” is sounding familiar to you. Broughton’s Airbus site, is home to more than 6,000 employees and where aircraft wings are designed, tested and manufactured. Over the past 10 years, Airbus has invested over £2 billion into the Broughton plant, and in February the first XL model had a safe landing at the site. Once the Beluga XL is in service (expected in September or October), it will replace its predecessor the Beluga ST.
Apart from its cute face, what’s different about the new Beluga model?
The Beluga XL is seven meters longer and one meter wider than the current airlifters. With the wings made at Broughton, the new model will have a 30% extra payload capacity. This means that it can carry two A350 XWB wings as opposed to one, which the current Beluga can carry which speeds up the transport from Broughton to its final assembly line in Toulouse.
new model is powered by two Rolls Royce 700 engines with a maximum
take-off weight of 227 tonnes. Each Beluga XL is due to perform around
1,000 flights per year across Airbus’ European plants. Following the
initial Beluga XL, there will be two more in operation by 2020 and two
more in the following couple of years, making a total of five aircrafts
in which time the Beluga STs will retire.
To adapt to the new aircraft, three jet blast deflectors (blast fences) have been installed at Hawarden Airport at each end of the runway. Blast fences are designed as a safety device to redirect high energy exhausts, preventing damage and injury. Even though the Beluga XL is incredibly high powered, the modern engine technology complies with latest regulations meaning that there will be no extra noise pollution.
Not long after the first
Beluga XL made it’s flight, a Beluga no 4 model was on it’s way to
Broughton from Toulouse, but swiftly had to return after declaring
emergency. The flight landed safely back at Toulouse for quicker
servicing of the aircraft after it experiencing technical issues.
Hopefully the new models won’t have any emergency landings!
Let us know if you’ve spotted the Beluga XL near you!