Ascent Aerospace announced today that its Ascent Integration & Automation Group has been awarded a contract by Airbus for the Beluga XL Final Assembly Station.
The Beluga XL is an A330 heavily modified to transport large, oversized aerostructure components from Airbus supplier facilities to the Beluga XL final assembly line in Toulouse, France.
Under this contract Ascent Integration – European Operations, will manage the design, integration, build and installation of the equipment and tooling necessary to assemble this unique aircraft.
Ascent Integration will be responsible for providing a “turnkey” integrated assembly system incorporating all the assembly jigs, work platforms, transport systems, laser metrology, and tools required to assemble the new Beluga XL.
The project is unique in that, while only five aircraft will be converted, the assembly system must deliver the efficiency, accuracy and worker safety levels required by Airbus. The contract will conducted from April 2015 to November 2017.
The new Beluga was launched in November 2014 and named Beluga XL for its increased dimensions on the current Belugas in operation. The additional one metre in width and six metres in length will allow the Beluga XL to carry two A350 XWB wings at a time, twice that of the current Beluga.
The Beluga XL was launched to address the transport capacity requirement for the A350 XWB ramp-up and other aircraft production rate increases. Compared to the current Beluga, the Beluga XL will provide Airbus with an additional 30% air transport capacity.
The new oversize air transporters are based on the A330, with a large re-use of existing components and equipment. The design concept is similar to the current Beluga, with the distinctive lowered cockpit, cargo bay structure, rear-end and tail being amongst the items which are newly developed.
The first of five Beluga XLs will enter into service in 2019.