Airbus is still analysing timing and options as it considers whether to develop a successor to its A300-600ST Beluga transport.
The airframer has yet to make a decision on whether to proceed with a new design in order to cope with the demands of A350 ramp-up.
“We’re still working on the business case,” says Airbus executive vice-president for programmes Tom Williams.
He says the manufacturer aims to have “clarity on [whether] we go ahead or not” during the spring.
Williams says Airbus has moved towards transporting a number of single-aisle aircraft components by road, rather than flying them, which has freed some capacity on the Beluga fleet.
The airframer has studied both A330 variants as potential replacement platforms but has yet to detail the extent of any modification.
“All we need is a van on wings,” says Williams.
Airbus is facing a stretch on its Beluga capacity from around 2018 when it expects to be producing the A350 at a rate of 10 per month, while maintaining the A330 line.
It also expects to have completed the transition to the A320neo, for which it intends to keep output at 42 aircraft a month at least.
Airbus has five aircraft in its Beluga fleet and the type is additionally used for A380 and A400M parts transport.