The Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter), or Beluga, is a modified version of the standard A300-600 widebody airliner to carry aircraft parts and outsize cargo. It received the name ”Super Transporter” early on, however, Beluga – a whale it resembles gained popularity, and has been adopted ever since.
The Airbus A300-600ST shares many design similarities, although substantially varying in appearance to the A300-600 upon which it was based. The wings, engines, landing gear, and the lower part of the fuselage remain identical to that used in a conventional A300 while the upper part of the fuselage forms an enormous horseshoe-shaped structure 25ft in diameter.
|CAPACITY||47,000 KG (103,617 lbs)|
|LENGTH||56.15 m (184 ft 3 in)|
|WINGSPAN||44.84 m (147 ft 1 in)|
|HEIGHT||17.24 m (56 ft 7 in)|
|WING AREA||260 m2 (2,800 sq ft)|
|EMPTY WEIGHT||86,500 kg (190,700 lb)|
|MAX.TAKE-OFF WEIGHT||155,000 kg (341,717 lb)|
|FUEL CAPACITY||23,860 l (6,303 US gal)|
|FUSELAGE EXTERNAL DIAMETER||7.31 m (24 ft) (including lower fuselage)|
|CARGO CROSS-SECTION DIAMETER||7.1 m (23 ft 4 in) in cargo compartment|
|CARGOHOLD||volume 1,500 m3 (53,000 cu ft), 37.7 m (124 ft) long × 7.04 m (23.1 ft) wide × 7.08 m (23.2 ft) tall|
|POWERPLANT||2 × General Electric CF6-80C2A8 turbofan, 257 kN (58,000 lbf) thrust each|
The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, also known as the Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF), is a wide-body aircraft modified extensively from the B747-400, originally designed to transport massive B787 parts from facilities around the world to their assembly unit in the US. With a volume of 65,000 cubic feet, the Dreamlifter can hold thrice as much as that of a B747-400F.
The LCF conversion was partially done by Boeing’s Moscow bureau and Boeing Rocketdyne with the swing tail designed in partnership with GAMESA AERONAUTICA of Spain. The cargo portion of the aircraft is unpressurized.
|LENGTH||235 ft 2 in (71.68 m)|
|WINGSPAN||211 ft 5 in (64.4 m)|
|HEIGHT||70 ft 8 in (21.54 m)|
|FUSELAGE WIDTH||27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)|
|OPERATING EMPTY WEIGHT||180,530 kg (398,000 lb)|
|MAX.TAKE-OFF WEIGHT (MTOW)||364,235 kg (803,001 lb)|
|CRUISING SPEED||Mach 0.82 (474 kn, 878 km/h)|
|RANGE( FULLY LOADED)||4,200 nmi (4,800 mi; 7,800 km)|
|MAX.FUEL CAPACITY||52,609 U.S. gal (199,150 l)|
|ENGINE MODEL||PW 4062 (4)|
|ENGINE THRUST ( PER ENGINE)||63,300 lbf (282 kN)|
|TAKE-OFF RUN AT MTOW||9,199 ft (2,804 m)|
Airbus Beluga XL
The Airbus Beluga XL is based on the Airbus A330-200F built by Airbus to replace the original Airbus Beluga ST in the movement of oversized aircraft components. With 30% more capacity than the original Beluga ST, the Beluga XL can carry two A350 XWB wings instead of one. Its new fuselage is 6.9 m (23 ft) longer and 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in) wider than the original BelugaST, and it can lift a payload 6 t (5.9 long tons; 6.6 short tons) heavier. Its aft section is based on the A330-300, while its forward is based on the A330-200 for the center of gravity reasons, and the reinforced floor and structure are derived from the A330-200F. The A330 wings, main landing gear, and central and aft fuselage form a semi-built platform with few systems, without the aft upper fuselage, while the upper central fuselage is cut off, facilitated by the metal construction. The enlarged freight hold is mounted in three months with 8,000 new parts on the junction line.
Which one is best?
The Airbus Beluga is beaten by the Boeing Dreamlifter, which in turn is beaten by the Beluga XL.
What we have here is an argument not based on aircraft design but on time. The Beluga was introduced in 1995, the Dreamlifter in 2007, and the latest Beluga XL in 2016. Is it fair to compare aircraft that are each 10 years apart from each other? We can expect Boeing to come out with their new version in the next five to ten years which is likely to leave the Airbus variants in the dust.
- Jetline Marvel (Cover photo)
Airbus Unveils New Automated A321XLR Equipping Hangar in Hamburg
Airbus marked a significant step in its journey towards modernization and ramped-up production with the official opening of its new automated A321XLR equipping hangar in Hamburg. The inauguration was graced by Hamburg’s First Mayor Peter Tschentscher, and the German Aerospace Coordinator, Anna Christmann.
Stepping Up Production
Airbus aims to ramp up the production rate for the A320 program to 75 by 2026. This new hangar plays an integral part in achieving that goal, as it would house the production of A321 fuselages. André Walter, Head of Airbus Commercial Aircraft Production in Germany, said, “The design of the building reflects the latest standards in production and sustainability.”
Dr. Peter Tschentscher emphasized Hamburg’s prominence in Airbus’s scheme of things, calling it a central location for Airbus’ single-aisle development and production. The new A321XLR, described as the flagship of the A320 Family, will be assembled at the Finkenwerder site in Hamburg.
Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, pointed out that investing in the new hangar is a pivotal move towards achieving climate neutrality in aviation. With Airbus positioning itself as a pioneer in sustainable aviation, it sends a clear message about the future direction of the industry.
Hangar H259: A Peek Inside
The new hangar, labeled H259, spans 9,600 m^2 of production space. It is equipped with advanced technologies, including automated logistics, digital systems, and real-time test stations. Every fuselage section undergoes rigorous testing after system installation and then heads to the final assembly line in Hamburg.
Employee comfort and efficiency were prioritized while planning the hangar. Moreover, sustainability was also at the forefront, with a 3,000 m^2 photovoltaic system powering the hangar and the surplus electricity being used for the site. An automatic control system for heating, ventilation, and lighting, along with the office block’s superior insulation, underlines Airbus’s commitment to sustainability.
Spotlight on the A321XLR
The A321XLR is poised to be a game-changer. This evolution of the A320neo offers an impressive range of up to 4,700 nm, 15% more than its predecessor, the A321LR. The aircraft promises 30% lower fuel consumption per seat than older competitor models. Furthermore, the A321XLR offers enhanced passenger comfort, all while maintaining the low operational costs of a single-aisle aircraft. The A321XLR, with nearly 570 orders globally, is set to make its entry into service in 2024’s second quarter.
Final and Sixth Beluga XL Rolls Out at Airbus
Airbus has rolled out the sixth and last of its Beluga XL freighters at the production facility in Toulouse, France. Based on the A330-200 platform and boasting a special livery, this plane joins a quintet of similar aircraft assisting Airbus in meeting production schedules at its various plants across the globe.
The Final Super Transporter
The concluding Airbus Beluga XL, also known as the ‘super transporter,’ marks the end of a production run consisting of six airplanes. Unlike its five predecessors, each displaying a consistent livery barring their fleet numbers (1-5), the final aircraft showcases a modified external color scheme.
This latest addition features Airbus’ standard house tail colors, logo, and the ‘Airbus Beluga XL’ fuselage titles present on the other five planes. However, it also carries the additional text ‘Also flying outsize cargo to your destination’ and a unique ‘winking eye’ motif on the left side of the forward fuselage.
Currently, the sixth Beluga XL is preparing for its maiden flight, scheduled to occur within a few days. Its entry into service is expected in the latter half of 2023.
The Beluga XL: An Oversized Freight Carrier
Launched officially in November 2014, the Beluga XL program was initiated in response to Airbus’s evolving logistical transport needs. This new generation aircraft, derived from the Airbus A330-200 airliner platform, replaced the previous Beluga ST transporter, whose job was to ferry aircraft components between Airbus factories and assembly plants across Europe.
The Beluga XL had its first flight in July 2018 and entered service in February 2021 with Airbus Transport International (ATI), the logistics division of the European aerospace group.
Before the Beluga STs, Airbus relied on a fleet of four Super Guppies, a turboprop freighter developed by Boeing in the 1960s. However, their limited cargo capability led to their replacement by the Beluga ST, which now gives way to the Beluga XL fleet.
Unmatched Capabilities of the Beluga XL
Being seven meters longer and one meter wider than the Beluga ST, the Beluga XL can boast of a 30% increase in load capacity. Thanks to improved loading systems, the Beluga XL’s turnaround time is approximately one hour, nearly halving that of the Beluga ST.
One of the unique features of the Beluga XL is its large cargo door located above the flight deck, which allows easy loading of whole wings and large sections of fuselage into the enormous cargo compartment. According to Airbus, the Beluga XL can carry two completed wings of the A350 XWB, while the Beluga ST could only manage one.
Read more about the Beluga XL: Airbus Beluga: A Marvel of Engineering and Design
Joining a Busy Worldwide Fleet
Soon, the final Beluga XL will join the ATI fleet, operating between 11 European destinations, gradually replacing the five-member-strong Beluga ST fleet. However, the Beluga ST fleet isn’t retiring yet. They are being phased into another operational division of ATI – Airbus Beluga Transport (AiBT), launched in July 2022.
While AiBT initially focused on missions for other Airbus divisions, it plans to accommodate an increasing number of external commercial customers as the Beluga XLs take over the primary role of transporting commercial airplane components for Airbus. By February 2023, AiBT had already filled nearly 50% of its slots for the rest of the year, catering to many requests for outsized cargo transportation missions worldwide.
Bulgaria Air’s Airbus A220: Latest-Generation Addition to Fleet
Bulgaria Air now proudly hosts the Airbus A220 in its fleet, marking an important step towards greener aviation. The A220’s attributes of operational flexibility, unrivaled comfort, and reduced emissions make it a sought-after choice for airlines working towards more efficient and sustainable aircraft operations. With the addition of Bulgaria Air’s Airbus A220, passengers can now look forward to a state-of-the-art flight experience that has already been enjoyed by over 90 million travelers worldwide.
Bulgaria Air, the national airline of Bulgaria, has received its first A220 aircraft from Airbus’ Mirabel facility in Canada. The A220, which will be leased from Air Lease Corporation, will operate on regional and international routes throughout Europe. Bulgaria Air will lease a total of seven A220s from ALC.
The A220, Airbus’ latest-generation aircraft, will complement Bulgaria Air’s existing fleet of seven A320s. With a range of up to 3,450 nm (6,390 km), the A220 offers increased operational flexibility to airlines like Bulgaria Air.
The initial configuration of Bulgaria Air’s A220 will have a total of 143 seats in dual-class, including eight business-class seats. The A220 is designed for the 100-150 seat market and incorporates advanced aerodynamics, materials, and Pratt & Whitney engines. It provides unbeatable comfort in a small single aisle with the widest windows, largest seats, and overhead stowage, as well as the widest and quietest cabin in its category.
The A220 also supports Bulgaria Air’s commitment to decarbonizing aviation, as it produces up to 25% lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat than previous-generation aircraft and 50% lower NOx emissions than industry standards. Additionally, the aircraft’s noise footprint is reduced by 50% compared to previous-generation aircraft.
Airbus has received nearly 800 orders from 30 customers for the A220, with 265 already delivered. The A220 is currently in service with 16 airlines worldwide, operating on over 1,100 routes and over 375 destinations. Over 90 million passengers have flown on the A220 to date.
Hence, What do you think are the benefits of Bulgaria Air’s addition of the Airbus A220 to its fleet?
Also, you may be interested in reading: The Story of the A220, how it Came About and How it’s Becoming Popular
American Airlines Airbus A319 Diverts to Memphis After Engine Shutdown: An In-Depth Look
An American Airlines Airbus A319, operated by Fort Worth-based American Airlines, encountered engine problems mid-flight, resulting in an emergency landing...
United Airlines’ $1.25 Million Investment Empowers STEM Education in Schools
United Airlines has announced a remarkable initiative to allocate $1.25 million towards funding various STEM projects in schools across selected...
LATAM Airlines Pilot Dies En Route from Miami to Santiago
In a rare and tragic incident, a LATAM Airlines pilot passed away mid-flight during a scheduled journey from Miami to...
American Airlines Passengers Amazed as Service Dog Secures Three Seats for Comfortable Flight
In a heartwarming and surprising scene aboard a recent American Airlines flight, passengers were treated to the sight of an...
Australia’s Rejection of Qatar Airways Expansion Could Incur $500 Million Annual Loss
Australia’s recent denial of Doha-based Qatar Airways’ request to expand its operations in the country is expected to result in...
Riyadh Air Announces Partnership with Atlético de Madrid in Landmark Sports Sponsorship
Saudi-based startup, Riyadh Air, in a groundbreaking announcement, has confirmed its multi-year partnership with the esteemed Spanish football club, Atlético...
Air India Unveils New Livery and Logo
Air India (AI) has announced a significant rebranding, unveiling its new livery colors and logo. While maintaining its signature red...
Jazeera Airways Expands Fleet and Boosts Revenue by 26% in First Half of 2023
Fleet Expansion and New Routes Drive Impressive Passenger Growth Kuwaiti airline Jazeera Airways recently announced its financial results for the...
60,000 American Airlines Advantage Miles Stolen From a Hacker
In a recent incident, an American Airlines frequent flyer fell victim to a hacker who stole over 60,000 AAdvantage miles...
Emirates Celebrates 20 Years of Service in New Zealand
Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, is celebrating its 20th anniversary of service in New Zealand. The airline began its inaugural flights...
An interview with LATAM airlines’ Chief Commercial Officer, Marty St. George
AVIATION AFRICA 2023: Pioneering the Future of African Aviation in Abuja
Airbus Unveils New Automated A321XLR Equipping Hangar in Hamburg
American Airlines Airbus A319 Diverts to Memphis After Engine Shutdown: An In-Depth Look
Efficiency Takes Flight: Discover the Top Five US Airports for On-Time Departures
Aviation News11 months ago
Antonov An-225 to be Rebuilt After Being Destroyed in Ukraine
Aviation Stories12 months ago
A Boeing 747 Once Flew With 5 Engines
Aviation3 years ago
SpaceX’s historic crew launch.
Informative12 months ago
Heads-Up-Displays (HUDs) And How It Works
Informative10 months ago
Why Does The Airbus A340 Have 4 Smaller Engines?
Informative2 years ago
Antonov An-225 Mriya: The Plane With 32 Wheels
Informative5 months ago
Why the Airbus A380 Only Utilizes Reverse Thrust on Its Inner Engines
Aviation1 year ago
Reverse Thrust in Airplanes and how it Functions