The Beluga XL is a new version of Airbus’s specialized air-cargo carrier, based on the A300-600 widebody aircraft and modified to carry aircraft parts and other oversized loads.

Rolls to Supply Engines for New Airbus Cargo Fleet

Sept. 13, 2015
New Beluga XL to feature Trent 700 engines under $700-million deal TotalCare long-term service, too Modified twin-engine widebody aircraft Debut in 2020

Rolls-Royce was selected by Airbus to provide Trent 700 engines for five new Beluga XL air-transport aircraft. Together with the TotalCare long-term engine service contract, the order is worth a reported $700 million.

The Trent 700 is a high-bypass turbofan jet engine that made its debut in 1990 for the twin-engine Airbus A330 wide-body commercial jet, and updated in 2009 (based on fan and turbine design developments in subsequent Trent engine series) to achieve improvements in fuel consumption.

A further updated design (part of Rolls’ T700EP2 package) was done more recently to address the higher gross weight of the new A330. These revisions are designed to improve fuel efficiency by an estimated 1%.

Rolls-Royce claims that the Trent 700 has the lowest lifecycle fuel-burn rating, and is the quietest and cleanest engine available for the A330.

It also stated that the Trent 700 has won more than 60% of new orders over the past three years, and accounts for 90% of A330 freighters in service and on order.

Overall, more than 1,500 Trent 700s are in service or on firm order, making it the largest in-service Trent engine.

Simon Carlisle, executive vice president for Rolls-Royce’s Strategy and Future Programmes, Civil Large Engines, stated: "We welcome this decision to select an engine that is the clear market leader on the A330 and offers outstanding performance in terms of fuel burn, reliability, emissions and noise."

The current Airbus Beluga is a version of the standard A300-600 modified to carry aircraft parts and oversized cargo. The “Beluga” was developed in the 1990s, but the name was adopted after it gained popular acceptance in place of the official “Super Transporter” label. The new Beluga XL is being developed based on the larger Airbus A330, with similar modifications and dimensions, and is estimated to replace the current Airbus Beluga in 2020.

Compared to the current Beluga, the Beluga XL will provide Airbus with an additional 30% air-transport capacity. It will replace the current Airbus Beluga fleet, and was unveiled last November to manage the ramp-up in the A350 XWB program, and the transport capacity required for other programs.

"We look forward to the Trent 700 powering this important development in our air transport strategy,” according to Bertrand George, Airbus senior vice-president and head of Beluga XL programs. "The engine has an excellent record on the A330 and is ideally suited to our requirements for this aircraft."

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