Whale of an aircraft gets Airbus A330 redesign

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Airbus’ cargo aircraft for ferrying its fuselages, wings and other large assemblies, the Beluga, is to be redesigned. 

The new design will be based on the Airbus A330-200 passenger version, not the freighter product. The existing Beluga aircraft use the Airbus A300 design.

The European aircraft manufacturer is increasing the size of its Beluga to fleet to be able to cope with future production levels of its Airbus A350 eXtra WideBody (XWB) and other products. The picture shows an Airbus A320 new engine optimisation type fuselage being loaded on to a Belgua. The first of the five new Belugas will enter into service in mid-2019. The existing Beluga fleet of five will operate in parallel, and will be progressively retired through to 2025.

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

The larger aircraft will have a payload capacity 12 per cent, six tonnes, greater than the existing Beluga which has a 50 tonne capability. The new version has a larger cargo fuselage section , its diameter is one metre wider and it is six metres longer than the A300 Beluga.

Airbus had already launched its, “the Fly 10000,” project to double its Beluga capacity by 2017. However, the capacity is still too limited and the larger Beluga fleet will close this gap.

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