Airbus marked the maiden flight of its final and sixth BelugaXL, five years after the debut flight of the first BelugaXL.

The newer BelugaXL fleet is slated to replace the older Beluga ST fleet which has flown over Deeside in Flintshire for over two decades.

Despite initially planning on only five BelugaXLs, Airbus later added a sixth to the fleet.Airbus's final 

TOULOUSE — The sixth and the final BelugaXL took to the skies on Friday. This occasion, however, was not just about the newest addition. As Airbus shared on its Facebook page, the event was doubly significant: "As our 6th and final gentle giant takes to the skies for the first time, we also celebrate 5 years since the first flight of our much-loved first outsized super transporter."

Designed based on the Airbus A330-200 blueprint, the BelugaXLs are prepped to take over the duties of the older Beluga ST models. For over two decades, the skies of Deeside, Flintshire, have been accustomed to the sight of the Beluga ST, given that the Airbus Broughton plant located there has been responsible for producing wings for all Airbus aircraft.

The distinctive appearance of the Beluga fleet gets a touch of charm with the latest member, the XL6. While it retains the familiar Airbus tail colours and emblem consistent with its predecessors, it introduces a playful winking eye to the Beluga's signature smiley face on the aircraft's front. Additionally, a bold branding on the XL6 states, "Also flying outsize cargo to your destination."

Although Airbus had initially mapped out a strategy focusing on five BelugaXLs, each powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, they expanded their vision by introducing a sixth member to the fleet. The journey of the BelugaXL began in late 2014, primarily to bolster the A350 production. The series made its first public appearance in 2018, with a notable debut at Airbus Broughton on Valentine’s Day of 2019.

With the fleet now complete, Airbus is fervently anticipating the newest addition's contributions. Transporting parts between its various manufacturing locations and managing outsized cargo missions are just a few of its expected roles. The company's excitement was palpable as they concluded their post, stating, "We can't wait to see her join her XL siblings."