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Airbus-a300-600st Beluga "1994"

The Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter), or Beluga, is a version of the standard A300-600 wide-body airliner modified to carry aircraft parts and outsize cargo. It received the official name of Super Transporter early on; however, the name Beluga, a whale it resembles, gained popularity and has since been officially adopted. The Beluga XL, based on the Airbus A330 with similar modifications and dimensions, was developed by Airbus to replace the type in January 2020.

Airbus-a300-600st Beluga "1994"

Role Outsize cargo freight aircraft
Manufacturer Airbus
First flight 13 September 1994
Introduction September 1995
Status In service
Primary user Airbus Transport International
Produced 1992–c.1999
Number built 5
Developed from Airbus A300-600

Airbus

Airbus-a300-600st Beluga "1994"

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Airbus-a300-600st Beluga "1994"

The Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter), or Beluga, is a version of the standard A300-600 wide-body airliner modified to carry aircraft parts and outsize cargo. It received the official name of Super Transporter early on; however, the name Beluga, a whale it resembles,[1][2] gained popularity and has since been officially adopted. The Beluga XL, based on the Airbus A330 with similar modifications and dimensions, was developed by Airbus to replace the type in January 2020.
Several major aircraft manufacturers are multinational, and it is not unusual for them to have plants in widely separated locations. Airbus is unique in that although it is today a standalone multinational corporation, it was originally a consortium formed by the major British, French, German, and Spanish aerospace companies. 

A300-600ST Design

The A300-600ST Beluga shares many design similarities, although substantially differing in appearance, to the Airbus A300 upon which it was based.[3] The wings, engines, landing gear, and the lower part of the fuselage remain identical to those used on the conventional A300, while the upper part of the fuselage forms an enormous horseshoe-shaped structure 7.7 m (25 ft) in diameter. In comparison with the Super Guppy, the payload was more than doubled and the volume increased by more than 30%[3] The General Electric CF6-80C2 turbofan engines used are slightly uprated from those used on the standard A300 as well.[6] The vertical stabilizer uses a modified Airbus A340 fin with a 1.12 m (3 ft 8 in) base extension while the tailplane was strengthened and fitted with auxiliary fins to maintain directional stability. The tailplane trim tank was also deleted

Operational history

In January 1996, the Beluga was formally placed into dedicated service, ferrying components from various aerospace sites to the final assembly lines in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany. On 24 October 1997, the last of Airbus Industrie’s Super Guppy freighters was retired and its outsize cargo mission from that point onwards being exclusively performed by the new A300-600ST fleet. In 1997, the second year of Beluga operations, the fleet accumulated in excess of 2,500 flight hours across more than 1,400 flights. By 2012, the fleet was performing roughly 5,000 flight hours per year; Airbus expected this figure to double by 2017

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Airbus A300-600ST Beluga (1994)

The Beluga has seen recurrent use to transport bulky objects, including vehicles, for various different space programs. In 2001, sections of the unmanned Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) space vehicle were transported by a Beluga from Turin, Italy to Amsterdam, Netherlands. In 2004, multiple Beluga flights were made to Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, to deliver Astrium-built satellites In 2009, a Beluga was used to convey the Tranquility module of the International Space Station from Turin to Kennedy Space Center, United States

Specifications

Crew: 2

Capacity: 47,000 kg (103,617 lb) typical load

Length: 56.15 m (184 ft 3 in)

Wingspan: 44.84 m (147 ft 1 in)

Height: 17.24 m (56 ft 7 in)

Empty weight: 86,500 kg (190,700 lb)

Max takeoff weight: 155,000 kg (341,717 lb)

Fuselage external diameter: 7.31 m (24 ft) (including lower fuselage)

Powerplant: 2 × General Electric CF6-80C2A8 turbofan, 257 kN 

Maximum speed: Mach 0.7 Maximum Operating Mach – MMO

Range: 2,779 km (1,727 mi, 1,501 nmi) with 40 t (88,000 lb) payload – 4,632 km (2,501 nmi) with 26 t (57,000 lb) payload

Service ceiling: 10,668 m (35,000 ft) 

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy – Outsize cargo conversion of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser

Aero Spacelines Super Guppy – Turboprop conversion and enlarged version of outsize cargo carrier Pregnant Guppy

Antonov An-124 Ruslan – Soviet/Ukraine four–engine large military transport aircraft

Antonov An-225 Mriya – Soviet/Ukrainian six-engine heavy strategic cargo aircraft

Boeing Dreamlifter – Outsize cargo conversion of the 747-400

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A two-bay loading dock was opened in Toulouse in 2019, receiving 85-100 flights a week, as the five A300-600STs are operated 7,600 hours a year together. It encloses the forward section including the open large cargo door for less weather restrictions and faster 1h 20min turnaround down from 2h 30min.

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