Airbus To Expand Beluga Fleet


Airbus will build five new Beluga transport aircraft, the company announced this week. Only five of the large-transport airplanes exist, all of them operated by Airbus to transport large aircraft components between production sites in Europe. The original fleet was based on the A300, but the new airplane will be based on the A330 widebody, with “a large re-use of existing components and equipment,” Airbus said. The first of the five new Belugas will enter service in mid-2019. The existing Beluga fleet will continue to fly, but the airplanes will be progressively retired through 2025.

The Beluga has seldom been seen outside of Europe, but one flew in to EAA AirVenture in 2003. In June, one of the airplanes flew past a Toulouse airshow in company with the eight-ship Patrouille de France airshow team.