Beluga extravaganza

Airbus is ramping up production of its A350 XWB and other aircraft. To facilitate this increased productivity,  the European aircraft manufacturer took the decision of launching the development and production of five new, extravagant looking Beluga transport aircraft.

The new Beluga will be based on the A330 with a large re-use of existing components and equipment. The distinctive looking lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure and the rear-end and tail will be amongst the items which will be newly developed.

The first of the five new Belugas will enter in service in mid-2019. The existing Beluga fleet will operate in parallel, and will be progressively retired through to 2025.

What's not to like about the bizar Beluga? (Image © Airbus / Jane Widdowson)
What’s not to like about the bizar Beluga? (Image © Airbus / Jane Widdowson)

The current Beluga fleet of five aircraft is based on the A300. The “Beluga”, is Airbus’ unique method for transporting large aircraft components– between company production sites in Europe. Airbus had already l launched “the Fly 10000” project aiming at doubling the current Beluga capacity by 2017. However the current capacity is limited and the new Beluga fleet will close this capacity gap.

With its flexibility and short transport lead-times, oversize air transport is a cornerstone of Airbus’ industrial operations.

Source: Airbus