FRENCH aerospace company Airbus SE that makes the world’s largest passenger aircraft – the A380 flown by numerous international airlines to Australia – is building five huge new airfreighters. These will move outsize aircraft parts such as fuselage sections, entire wings and tails from makers world-wide, to Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany, where Airbus assembly centres will put specific models of its new planes together.
These monster new Airbus BelugaXL freighters will be able to carry up to 53 tons of aircraft parts at a time from supplier plants in several European countries, the UK and even China and the USA, to those assembly centres. Each of the new Belugas, the first of which will go into service in 2019, will be capable of flying 30 per cent more cargo than existing Airbus airfreighters in single hops of up to 4000 kilometres. Named Beluga because of the resemblance of their nose sections to the head of the Arctic’s white Beluga whales, Airbus has had fun giving its new airfreighters painted-on “eyes” and a grinning “mouth”.
- David Ellis