- The Airbus Beluga cargo plane is tasked with transporting large sections of Airbus aircraft for final assembly.
- The current fleet of five Airbus A300-600ST Belugas has been in service for 20 years.
- Recently, Airbus introduced a larger, next-generation Beluga called the BelugaXL.
- The BelugaXL is based on the Airbus A330-200 freighter and is expected to enter service in 2019.
But the plane that really stands out is the Airbus Beluga. It’s arguably one of the weirdest looking aircraft in the world.
The Beluga is a cargo plane designed to transport major sections of Airbus planes to its assembly plants in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany from suppliers around Europe.
And by major sections, I mean pieces as large as the middle and rear fuselage of an Airbus A320 airliner or the wing of an A350 widebody.
In all fairness, Airbus also uses a fleet of barges and trucks to move components around Europe.
Recently, Airbus unveiled a new generation of its bulbous cargo planes called the BelugaXL.
It will take over for the current generation A300-600ST Beluga that has been in service for two decades.
The Beluga derives its name from the large aquatic mammal to which it bears a striking resemblance. In fact, the new BelugaXL is even painted to look like the animal.
According to Airbus, it decided to build the BelugaXL in November 2014 as a response to the greater transport and capacity requirements the company expects in the years beyond 2019.
Since it’s based on the Airbus A330-200F freighter, the BelugaXL is larger, with greater cargo capacity, and is expected to deliver superior performance than its predecessor.
Here’s a closer look at the Airbus Beluga and BelugaXL.