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The sky whale now has its own airline – SiViaggia

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The Airbus Beluga, nicknamed the “sky whale” because of its appearance, now has its own airline, but it will not be used to carry passengers.

Published: 13-6-2024 13:33Updated: 13-6-2024 13:33

Blue eyes and a dazzling smile, andAirbus Belugaknown as “sky whale” It is without a doubt the strangest plane in the world. Like the gentle white cetaceans that bear its name and appearance, this strange and formidable aircraft now has its own airline. The bad news for travelers is that they won’t be able to experience a flight on this winged giant, as it is only intended to transport very specific types of cargo.

Airbus Beluga, the “whale of the sky,” has its own airline

The first Beluga was originally known as the Airbus Super Transporter. But after its nickname – derived from its resemblance to an Arctic beluga whale – gained popularity, Airbus decided to rename the plane. Beluga Street. The aircraft first flew in 1994 and entered service in 1995, followed over the years by four other models, the last of which was launched at the end of 2000.

The fleet is developed for large transportation Airbus aircraft divisions From factories in France, Germany, the UK, Spain and Turkey to the final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg. Before Beluga, Airbus operated a fleet of Super Guppies, modified versions of 1950s Boeing Stratocruiser passenger planes, which were already in service at NASA for transporting spacecraft parts. As history repeated itself, the original Beluga was replaced by a more spacious and advanced model: Beluga XL. The latter is designed to have 30% more payload capacity than its predecessor, being able to accommodate two A350 XWB wings inside, instead of just one.

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Six XL aircraft have been manufactured since 2018 and the last aircraft will be delivered to the local Airbus carrier very soon. “The Beluga XL could completely replace the Beluga ST on the Airbus internal network, so STs could become available for replacement service.”Benoit Lemonnier, CEO of Airbus Beluga Transport, explained to CNN. Specifically, one of them will continue to work for Airbus and transport aircraft parts, while the other four will be part of the company’s fleet exclusively. New cargo airline.

However, this is not the first time Beluga aircraft have been used outside of Airbus. In fact, some charter flights were carried out between 2000 and 2010, and belugas were used for helicopter and satellite transport. Then, in 2022, the company completed dozens of test missions in preparation for the company’s launch. “The difference now is that we are completely independent – Dice Lemonnier – So that we can be flexible to our customers and accept date changes, for example, which means we can stay in one area to wait for the load, which would probably be impossible for an Airbus in-house airline. .

Advantages and limitations of the Airbus Beluga

Although able to 40 tons The Beluga ST pales in comparison to the Antonov AN-124 – which can carry three times the weight – and according to Airbus, it is equipped with One of the largest cargo tonnages Than any other civilian or military aircraft flying today. This is actually 50% higher and 10% wider than standard freighters, such as the Boeing 747-8F, and is generally used to transport large objects such as satellites, helicopters, aircraft engines, flight simulators, sailing and military boats. Vehicles.

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However, flying on a Beluga can be a little different than on regular planes. The “sky whale” can actually have behavior Sensitive to wind Because of the large front part, which resembles the distinctive protrusion on the head of the cetacean of the same name, for this reason it requires special training for pilots. Another limitation is the 3,000 km range, which means flights from Europe to the US take up to 3,000 km. Two stops For refueling, this is generally done in the Azores and Canada.

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