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This article was first published 9 years ago  » Business » World's largest cargo aircraft turns 20!

World's largest cargo aircraft turns 20!

September 23, 2014 07:16 IST
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One of the world’s largest cargo carriers, A300-600ST aircraft has completed 20 years. 

Owing to its resemblance to a white whale, the mighty plane from the Airbus family is nicknamed Beluga.

After its maiden flight on September 13, 1994, the popular Beluga cargo aircraft has been  transporting Airbus component parts between Airbus’ European manufacturing sites.

It took nearly two years to build the first plane. After 335 hours of test flying, Beluga started services.

The fleet of five Beluga aircraft has replaced the Super Guppy transporters to supply the Airbus final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg.

Today, more than sixty flights are operated each week between eleven sites, carrying crucial parts for all of the Airbus programmes, including the world largest aircraftA380.

The Beluga fleet is operated by Airbus Transport International (ATI), an Airbus subsidiary airline, and each Beluga crew has a pilot, a co-pilot and a flight engineer.

With the production start of the A350 XWB in 2012 and the production ramp-up on other Airbus programmes, the Beluga’s operations are set to increase over the next five years.

The Beluga offers unique transport capabilities for the military airlift market, providing the largest main deck cargo compartment of any aircraft available today.

The Beluga is based on the twin-engine A300-600R, known for reliability and its cost-effectiveness.  

With its impressive dimensions (56 m long, 17 m high, a fuselage diameter of 7.71 m and a main-deck cargo volume of 1,400m3), the Beluga is one of the best cargo carriers in the world.

The Beluga can carry a maximum payload of 47 metric tonnes non-stop over a range of 1,660 km/900 nm.

Photographs, courtesy: Airbus 

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