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BelugaXL arrives in UK for tests at Broughton wing plant

Airbus’s first BelugaXL logistics aircraft has made its maiden flight to the airframer’s UK wing plant at Broughton.

It departed Toulouse just after 14:10 on 14 February and conducted a flypast at the Filton facility, and along the Bristol Channel, before heading north through Wales.

The Rolls-Royce Trent 700-powered aircraft then conducted circuits at Broughton before touching down on runway 22 around 15:35.

Broughton has a relatively short runway with a length of 2,093m, and the threshold of runway 22 is displaced by 351m. The runway has an upward slope.

The opposite-direction runway 04 slopes downwards and has a displaced threshold of 300m.

These technical characteristics of the airfield were crucial to the selection of a base aircraft on which to develop the BelugaXL, the successor to the A300-600ST.

Airbus needed a transport larger than the A300-600ST, in order to carry two A350 wings, but considered that a modified A330-300 or A340-500 would be too large to land at Broughton, particularly in wet conditions.

Its BelugaXL is a hybrid largely designed around the A330-200, and formally designated the A330-700L.

Airbus is conducting certification work with the aircraft which, over the past week, has been flown to Seville and the Moron air base in Spain for testing, as well as the airframer’s facility in Bremen.

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