The new Beluga will be based on the A330 with a large re-use of existing components and equipment. The distinctive looking lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure and the rear-end and tail will be amongst the items which will be newly developed.
The first of the five new Belugas will enter in service in mid-2019. The existing Beluga fleet will operate in parallel, and will be progressively retired through to 2025.
The current Beluga fleet of five aircraft is based on the A300. The “Beluga”, is Airbus’ unique method for transporting large aircraft components – between company production sites in Europe. Airbus had already launched “the Fly 10000” project aiming at doubling the current Beluga capacity by 2017. However the current capacity is limited and the new Beluga fleet will close this capacity gap.
With its flexibility and short transport lead-times, oversize air transport is a cornerstone of Airbus’ industrial operations.