Using its unique BelugaST fleet, Airbus has launched a new air cargo service to provide a solution to the large-scale freight needs of shipping companies and other potential customers.
The new service - Airbus Beluga Transport - will provide solutions to major cargo transportation needs of commercially contracted customers in a variety of business lines, including the aerospace, energy, military, aviation, maritime and humanitarian sectors.
The first mission took place at the end of 2021, with a delivery for an unnamed customer from Airbus Helicopters' production facility in Marignane, France, to Kobe, Japan. Beluga #3 has stopped in Warsaw (Poland), Novosibirsk (Russia) and Seoul (Korea) for refueling.
Phillippe Sabo, Head of ATI and Air Oversize Transport at Airbus, said: “Beluga's wider cross-section will open up new markets and new logistics opportunities for customers. Helicopters will be able to be loaded as a whole without being disassembled, which will create significant improvement and added value. Similarly, the largest commercial aircraft engines will be able to be installed as finished.”
The BelugaST fleet of five aircraft was developed based on the A300-600 design and plays a crucial role in Airbus' inter-site transportation. However, this fleet will be replaced by 6 new generation Beluga XLs to support Airbus's operation to increase production.
The new Airbus Beluga Transport service aircraft will address a multitude of potential market applications as it has the world's largest cross-section of any transport aircraft, accommodating oversized cargo up to 7,1m wide and 6,7m high.
In the near future, when Airbus puts all six new BelugaXLs into service, the upcoming BelugaST fleet will be transferred to a new subsidiary, the airline, which has its own Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and personnel. On the subject, Philippe Sabo said: “The new airline will be fast and flexible to meet the needs of foreign markets around the world.”
New loading techniques and equipment are being developed in operations to maximize working capacity for BelugaST's targeted international customer base. These solutions will also include an automated In-Cabin Cargo Loader (OBCL) for missions where a loading/unloading platform is not available at airports at departure and destination points.