Airbus’ ‘White Whale’ Celebrates 20 Years in the Air

By Juliet Van Wagenen | September 12, 2014
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Airbus Beluga Cargo Plane in flight
Airbus Beluga cargo plane in flight. Photo: Airbus

[Avionics Today 09-12-2014] The Beluga cargo aircraft — affectionately named after the white whale because of its shape — is celebrating 20 years of transporting Airbus component parts between Airbus’ European manufacturing sites.

With it’s maiden voyage on Sept. 13, 1994, the fleet of five Beluga aircraft replaced the aging Super Guppy transporters in order to supply the Airbus final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg. The Beluga is based on the twin-engine A300-600R and is powered by General Electric CF6-80C2 engines. The aircraft can carry a maximum payload of 47 metric tons over a range of 900 nautical miles.

Today, more than 60 flights are performed each week between 11 sites, carrying parts for all of the Airbus programs, including the A380.

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