Airbus Transport International (ATI), a subsidiary of the European manufacturer Airbus Industries is placing two of its five Airbus A300-600ST Belugas on the market for oversized cargo. The aircraft which will be assigned to these missions will be Beluga numbers 02 (F-GSTB) and 03 (FGSTC).
During a press briefing earlier today Airbus Industries confirmed that following one such mission originating from Marignane (France) to Kobe (Japan) via Warsaw (Poland), Novosibirsk (Russia) and Seoul (South Korea) transporting a factory new ‘Airbus helicopters’ frame the European manufacturer will be offering two of its five Beluga ST to service the oversized cargo market which to this day was exclusive to a handful of operators operating the Antonov An-124 and An-225. The flight took place on the 21st December 2021 which is when the new service was officially launched to the market. Airbus was able to tap into this lucrative market due to the fact that the original fleet of five Beluga ST is being strengthened with the introduction of more newly developed Airbus A330-743L Beluga XL.
Even tough hold capacity and payload capability for both Antonov An-124 and An-225 remain un-paralleled on the oversized cargo market, the marketing strategy being used by ATI to market their Belugas is the cargo hold volume of their freighter which even when compared to the bigger and heavier Antonov designs remains un-challanged to this day. Airbus also took a leaf out of the Antonov copybook with the introduction of an on-board loading system which is intended to offer more flexibility with oversized loads.
The ‘Beluga’ concept came into existence in the early days of Airbus as a means to efficiently and effectively connect its facilities scattered across the European continent with its final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg.
The first such transport was the Aero Spacelines Super Guppy which is a derivative of the Boeing 377. In September of 1991 Airbus began development and construction work on its in-house replacement for the ageing fleet of Guppies, the answer was the Beluga ST which was derived from the original Airbus, the Airbus A300-600.
The Beluga ST took to the air in September of 1994 and has been the backbone of ATI up till the introduction of its bigger brother the Airbus Beluga XL. With the overwhelming success of Airbus products, in 2013 it was deemed that the five original Belugas could not cope with production growth any longer. To that effect in 2014 it was decided that Airbus would develop and build a second generation of Belugas which would be developed around the successful Airbus A330-200, the new Beluga which would fly for the first time in July 2019 would be named Beluga XL.