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15 September 2014
Commercial Aircraft

Now 20 years “young,” Airbus’ Beluga airlifters show no signs of slowing down

Airbus Beluga - Patrouille de France 1
Airbus Beluga - Patrouille de France 1 H.GOUSSE/MASTERFILMS, H. GOUSSÉ
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02 June 2014

Airbus Beluga - Patrouille de France 1

Airbus’ Beluga transporter aircraft performed a memorable formation flight with the French Air Force’s “Patrouille de France” aerobatic demonstration team on 30 May 2014

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17 June 2014

Airbus Beglua loading hangar

Six new loading hangars dedicated to Airbus' Beluga cargo carriers – the first of which opened May 2014 in Hamburg, Germany – will help these freighters increase their flight hour totals to support the company's latest production rate increases

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12 September 2014

Airbus’ fleet of Beluga aircraft

Airbus operates a fleet of five Beluga cargo airlifters, which together perform more than sixty flights each week to transport components for the company’s jetliners between 11 sites in Europe

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Airbus Beluga - Patrouille de France 4 H.GOUSSE/MASTERFILMS, H. GOUSSÉ
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02 June 2014

Airbus Beluga - Patrouille de France 4

The Beluga transporter aircraft, which flew in formation with the French Air Force “Patrouille de France” aerobatic demonstration team on 30 May 2014, plays a vital role in ensuring the ramp-up of several Airbus programmes

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Airbus Beluga – Side Lindner Fotografie 00491725411578 www.lindner-photography.com, LINDNER-Fotografie
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15 September 2014

Airbus Beluga – Side

Each of Airbus’ five Beluga cargo aircraft are significantly expanding their annual flight hour totals as part of the company’s FLY 10,000 programme to increase overall transportation capacity

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15 September 2014

Airbus Beluga

The five-aircraft Beluga fleet services a network comprised of 11 stations located in France, Germany, Spain, the UK and Turkey

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Airbus Beluga – In flight 2 H.GOUSSE/MASTERFILMS, H.GOUSSE
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15 September 2014

Airbus Beluga – In flight 2

Each of the five Airbus Beluga cargo airlifters has an expected lifespan of more than 30 years

Airbus Beluga – Fuselage close-up 2 AIRBUS, Christian Brinkmann H
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15 September 2014

Airbus Beluga – Fuselage close-up 2

Airbus’ Beluga is the world’s largest cargo carrier, leveraging one of the widest fuselage cross-sections of any civil or military aircraft

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20 October 2016

Airbus’ Beluga celebrates 20 years in the air

The Beluga, both the oddest looking and one of the most popular aircraft in the Airbus family is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the air. The cargo plane affectionately named after the Arctic white whale is responsible for ferrying crucial parts including new wings and fuselage sections between factories across Europe. It will see its work rate double as Airbus ramps up production along its assembly lines to meet a backlog of orders that stretches nearly 8 years.

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20 October 2016

Airbus’ Beluga: 20 years of reliable service

Since its first flight on 13 September 1994, Airbus’ A300-600ST Super Transporter – known as the Beluga – has been transporting components for the company’s jetliners between its European production facilities and final assembly lines. This video highlights the unique airlifter’s maiden flight 20 years ago.

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Twenty years to the day since its maiden flight, the Beluga cargo aircraft continues to play an invaluable role in keeping the Airbus’ production and assembly network working at full output.  As the company ramps up production to meet a record order backlog, the Beluga’s airlifter fleet’s importance – as well as its overall pace of operations – will grow accordingly.
Officially designated as the A300-600ST Super Transporter, the Beluga is a modified version of Airbus’ A300-600 passenger airliner, purpose-made to ferry crucial aircraft components among its network of European production facilities. The no. 1 Beluga entered service during 1995, and subsequently was joined by four more to form the current fleet of five – which are operated by the Airbus Transport International (ATI) subsidiary.
Nicknamed for its resemblance with the distinctive-looking arctic white whale, the Beluga offers a unique way to transport oversized air cargo, leveraging one of the most voluminous cargo holds of any civil or military aircraft flying today. Today it services a network of 11 stations located in France, Germany, Spain, the UK and Turkey, carrying such complete components such as fuselage sections, wings and tails for Airbus A320 Family and A330 jetliners, along with elements for A380 and A350 XWB.
Approaching the 20-year milestone of reliable service, the Beluga fleet is far from slowing down. In fact, as a major component of Airbus’ FLY 10,000 programme to increase overall transportation capacity, each of the five aircraft are significantly expanding their annual flight hour totals – to take the total capacity from 5,000 in 2011 to more than 10,000 per year by 2017. FLY 10,000 is achieving this by changing ways of working, expanding the hours during which flights can be performed, and updating how operations are carried out.
Airbus also is increasing capacity across its transport network with new and expanded ground handling hangars dedicated to servicing the Belugas during their stopovers. The new facilities – the first of which opened at Airbus’ Hamburg production site earlier in 2014 – will minimise the impact of weather conditions on loading and unloading, thereby helping increase the Beluga airlifters’ flight hour totals in support of production rate increases for Airbus’ current jetliner product lines, as well as the ramp-up of A350 XWB family production. 
By enhancing the ground handling facilities, Beluga loading/unloading time will be reduced from the current two hours – already a remarkably short turnaround – to just 90 minutes in the years to come. In addition, overall aircraft availability will be further increased through improved maintenance operations, a 24/7 control centre and other steps.
Airbus Beluga - Patrouille de France 1
 

Airbus’ Beluga transporter aircraft performed a memorable formation flight with the French Air Force’s “Patrouille de France” aerobatic demonstration team on 30 May 2014

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