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Airbus is Now Hiring Out its Super-Sized ‘Beluga’ Jets as Commercial Cargo Planes

Airbus is Now Hiring Out its Super-Sized ‘Beluga’ Jets as Commercial Cargo Planes

European aircraft manufacturer and aerospace giant Airbus has launched a new air-cargo service using its super-sized BelugaST aircraft. The specially adapted A300-600 planes were originally built to carry aircraft parts between Airbus’ various manufacturing sites throughout Europe but they are being replaced by an even bigger version known as the BelugaXL.

But while the original BelugaST doesn’t quite fit Airbus’ needs anymore, the planes still have a good 20 years of life left in them so Airbus is launching a special cargo subsidiary for ‘outsized freight’.

At the end of 2021, Airbus found its first customer for the service with the delivery of a helicopter from France to South Korea. The BelugaST is so much of a gas guzzler that it needed to refuel in Poland and Russia before eventually reaching Seoul.

Airbus’ Phillippe Sabo pointed out the ability of the BelugaST to quickly transport cargo of up to 7.1m in width and 6.7m in height would appeal to some customers.

“In the case of loading helicopters – not having to dismantle them first – really is a plus,” Sabo commented. “Similarly, the largest commercial aircraft engines can be accommodated in a fully-dressed configuration.”

The BelugaST fleet is slowly being replaced and Airbus hopes to have all five jets available as commercial cargo aircraft from 2024 onwards. For now, though, only two will be available for the remainder of 2022.

Sabo said the service could appeal to a wide variety of sectors as well as being used in both military and humanitarian missions.

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