Airbus has launched an air freight service for very large loads. The aircraft manufacturer, number one in the world for jet deliveries in the last three years, has decided to exploit a large part of the capacity of its fleet used for the transport of aircraft parts between European plants, consisting of six Belugas, the giant aircraft a whale shape. At the end of next year Airbus will set up its own airline as an autonomous company, dedicated to cargo transport, the certificate of aeronautical operator.
Two aircraft this year, 5 from 2024
The commercial offer started in the last quarter of 2021. The flights are operated on a charter basis, ie hired by those who need exceptional transport. Airbus will use Beluga St aircraft. It will deploy two aircraft this year and will increase its fleet to use 5 Sts starting in 2024, while the sixth, newest and largest aircraft, Beluga XL, which will continue to serve, will not be deployed. the needs of the manufacturer and “only exceptionally” will be able to fly for customers.
First flight from Marignane to Japan
“The new service, Airbus Beluga Transport, will provide commercial contract customers in a variety of industries – including space, energy, military, aviation, maritime and humanitarian – a solution to their large cargo transportation needs.” The first mission was at the end of 2021, with the transport of a large helicopter without dismantling it from the Airbus Helicopters production site in Marignane, Southern France, to Kobe, Japan. Airbus said the Beluga No. 3 made stops for refueling in Warsaw (Poland), Novosibirsk (Russia) and Seoul (Korea).
The Toulouse group claims that the Beluga’s fuselage section “offers more space than any other aircraft in existence.” Airbus showed as an example the comparison with Lockheed C5, Boeing C17, Boeing Dreamliner, Airbus 400M, Ilyushin 76, up to Antonov 124/225, considered the largest freight aircraft so far. “The Antonov remains a respectable competitor,” they say in Toulouse.
“The larger section of Beluga will open up new markets and new logistical possibilities for customers,” said Philippe Sabo, head of Ati (Air transport internationale) and Air oversize transport at Airbus. “In the case of loading helicopters, not having to dismantle them first is a great advantage. Similarly, even the largest engines of commercial aircraft can be housed in a fully assembled configuration. ‘ According to the data shown in the presentation, the Beluga St has a size of 7.1 meters x 6.7 meters x 39 meters in length, compared to an Antonov (6.4 x 4.4 x 41 meters) and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner (6.3 x 6.9 x 30 meters).