Airbus expects to start manufacturing the centre wing-box of the A330-based Beluga XL outsize transport early next year, having already begun cutting fuselage frames.

Various Airbus plants – including Saint Nazaire, Nantes and Hamburg – and other suppliers are involved in producing manufacturing drawings which will feed into work packages for the Beluga XL.

Airbus says these components will be adapted from those developed for its A330-200 freighter.

Machining has commenced at Nantes for the initial fuselage frame 40 – which, on the A330, is located near the leading edge of the wing root.

This “paves the way”, says Airbus, to the production of the centre wing-box in early 2016. These parts are being built for the initial non-flying test aircraft.

“Other ‘first cuts’ will take place in the very near future,” says the airframer, including rear fuselage work at Spanish supplier Aernnova.

Final assembly of the aircraft is scheduled to commence in early 2017. Service entry is planned for 2019.

Airbus is developing the Beluga XL to replace the A300-600ST Beluga which forms the core of its airborne production logistics operation.

Source: Cirium Dashboard