The first new Beluga freighter — painted to look like its whale namesake — has completed its first flight in France.

The Airbus BelugaXL has landed at Toulouse-Blagnac, successfully completing its first flight lasting four hours and 11 minutes.

Airbus uses the freighter to ship large sections of planes from European suppliers to its assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg.

Following the first flight, the BelugaXL will undergo some 600 hours of flight tests over 10 months to achieve Type Certification and entry into service later in 2019.


The BelugaXL programme was launched in 2014 to address Airbus' transport capacity requirements of the A350 XWB ramp-up and single-aisle production rate increases.

Five aircraft will be built between 2019 and 2023 to gradually replace the older Belugas.

Based on an A330-200 Freighter, the BelugaXL is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines.

The transporter's new paint job, which was designed to represent the Beluga Whale, was voted for in a poll by 20,000 people.

Airbus said the aircraft is the first of five BelugaXL's to enter service during 2019.