It has been in service since January but had never landed in Nantes before. The BelugaXL, the world’s largest cargo plane, landed Thursday afternoon on the Nantes-Atlantique tarmac. It will take off this Friday afternoon, around 3 p.m., after taking part in a series of technical tests prior to future regular round trips.
This mastodon, recognizable by its friendly marine mammal face, belongs to Airbus, which uses it to deliver and ship huge pieces of planes between its factories. And one of the main French sites (with Toulouse and Saint-Nazaire) of the aircraft manufacturer is precisely in Bouguenais, a stone’s throw from Nantes-Atlantique airport.
Significantly larger than its predecessor, the BelugaST, the BelugaXL alone weighs 125 tonnes and is capable of carrying up to 50 tonnes of material. From the end of November, he will start his rotations between Nantes and Hamburg [Allemagne].
“He will come and collect the A320 family center wing chambers manufactured at the Airbus site in Nantes in order to deliver them to the Airbus site in Hamburg. The BelugaXL has the capacity to load 9 A320 center wing boxes. It will adapt to Airbus production rates, ”explains the aircraft manufacturer.
The previous version of the Beluga has ceased its rotations in Nantes since 2017, in favor of transfers by land and sea. “His return to Nantes-Atlantique is scheduled for the end of November for new tests on the airport platform. Then, this aircraft will operate in support of the BelugaXL ”, reports Airbus.