Got some extra-large cargo, such as a helicopter, that needs moving? Airbus has just the solution for that.
The European manufacturer has announced the launch of a new air cargo service using its fleet of oversized BelugaST aircraft, known for their distinctive whale-like shape. Airbus normally uses its Beluga aircraft to transport parts of its own airliners between production sites.
The new role for the company’s five BelugaST aircraft comes as Airbus is replacing them with six new-generation BelugaXL aircraft. Once Airbus has commissioned all the new BelugaXLs, the BelugaST fleet will sit within a separate subsidiary with its own air operator certificate (AOC).
The BelugaST can accommodate cargo of up to 7.1 meter in width and 6.7 m in height, Airbus said in a statement on January 25, 2022. The manufacturer is also testing out new loading techniques and equipment to maximize turnaround capability for new customers.
Airbus said it expects customers from a variety of sectors, such as space, energy, military, aeronautic and humanitarian sectors, for the new cargo service.
Once used to fly plane parts between Airbus sites in Europe, the #Beluga A300-600 ST is now available for outsized cargo missions. It benefits all possible market applications thanks to its interior cross-section, the biggest of any transport aircraft.
— Airbus (@Airbus) January 25, 2022
The first mission for the new service, Airbus Beluga Transport, involved the delivery of an Airbus helicopter from Marignane in France to Kobe, Japan at the end of 2021.
“The Beluga’s wider cross-section will open up new markets and new logistical possibilities for customers,” Phillippe Sabo, Head of ATI and Air Oversize Transport at Airbus, said in the statement. “In the case of loading helicopters – not having to dismantle them first – really is a plus. Similarly, the largest commercial aircraft engines can be accommodated in a fully-dressed configuration.”