SATICA300-600ST "Beluga" Super Transporter

Development of an outsized version of the Airbus A300-600R to carry large aircraft-subassemblies was initiated by Airbus Industrie, which needed a replacement for the aging fleet of four Aero Spacelines Super Guppy turboprops employed to ferry sub-assemblies between the Airbus partner plants.

The Aerospatiale/Daimler-Benz Aerospace 50:50 consortium Super Airbus Transport International Company (SATIC) was selected to undertake the project, with the work carried out at Toulouse. The type is based on new-build A300-600R airframes and has an upward-opening nose-section, 7.4m-diameter fuselage, and a lowered flightdeck structure. An enlarged fin and horizontal-tail end-plates improve directional stability. The aircraft has 400m3 greater volume than that of the Super Guppy and 22.5t greater payload capacity.

The first A300-600ST "Beluga", powered by General Electric CF6-80C2 engines, was flown in September 1994. Certification was awarded in October 1995, and the first of four aircraft has been delivered to Airbus. The second aircraft was delivered in April 1996,with the third due in 1997 and the fourth and final aircraft due in June 1998.

The Beluga is being marketed commercially, with Airbus has set up a division - Airbus Transport International - to operate the Beluga on commercial cargo charters, in between commitments to the Airbus production schedule. It is estimated that the division could earn up to $15 million in revenue annually using spare capacity on the fleet,

The Beluga is being also marketed as a product in its own right to customers needing outsized-cargo handling capability.

Source: Flight International