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Airbus Beluga XL

Triton

Donald McKelvy
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"Beluga XL Design Frozen, Airbus Says"
Sep 28, 2015 Jens Flottau | Aviation Daily

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/beluga-xl-design-frozen-airbus-says

FRANKFURT—Airbus will likely operate two types of outsize cargo aircraft—the Beluga and Beluga XL—given rising narrowbody-production rates, the airframer says.

“We plan mixed-fleet operations for a minimum of five years,” says Bertrand George, head of the Beluga XL program. He adds that “we will adjust to our needs over time” and a decision about if and when the current Beluga fleet will be phased out is not expected before 2019.

The A330-based Beluga XL is configured so that it can use the same infrastructure that currently exists or is in the process of being introduced for the A300-based Beluga fleet. One of the main features has been kept —full-horizontal cargo access, achieved by lowering the cockpit below the main-deck cargo floor level.

Airbus reached a first crucial milestone in the Beluga XL’s five-year development by freezing design. The aircraft is based on the A330-200F, and will feature a 227-ton maximum take-off weight, 15 tons short of the heaviest A330 passenger version that is now in service with Delta Air Lines and SAS. At its maximum payload of 53 tons, the aircraft has a range of 2,200 nm.

Design freeze at aircraft level is followed by the detailed design phase, which will essentially be completed by the end of 2016.

After a competition that involved all three A330 engine manufacturers—Rolls-Royce, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney—Airbus has selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 as the sole powerplant for the five Beluga XLs currently expected to be built. Airbus also signed a total care package with Rolls-Royce for the new fleet.

The first Beluga XL will enter service in 2019, followed by the second unit in the same year. Three more are currently planned to be built and Airbus aims to deliver one per year for the next three years to operating unit Airbus Transport International (ATI).

But these plans are all subject to change, and hinge upon the manufacturer’s actual transport requirements five years from now. Airbus is currently studying to raise single-aisle production from 50 aircraft per month—an output to be reached by early 2017—to 60 or more before 2020, due to the strong demand for the A320neo and long wait times for new orders. A decision is due before the end of 2015.

A350 rates are increasing, too. One variable is future output of the A330: Airbus is slowing down from 10 to six aircraft per month ahead of the transition to the A330neo, but hopes that it can return the program to earlier levels once production of the new type has been phased in.

Transport requirements for the A350 in particular triggered the launch of the Beluga XL, as the current A300-based Beluga can only transport one A350 wing at a time, but the XL can take two, effectively doubling capacity for this particular kind of shipset. The XL is six meters longer and one meter wider than the standard Beluga. It has a six-ton payload advantage.

However, should Airbus need more lift, it can extend the life of the Beluga fleet, which it currently plans to retire by 2025. The first of the five in-service aircraft started flying for Airbus in 1995, and four more were delivered in subsequent years.
 

Triton

Donald McKelvy
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Source:
http://airwaysnews.com/blog/2015/06/01/key-takeaways-from-airbus-innovation-days-2015/
http://www.airbus.com/presscentre/pressreleases/press-release-detail/detail/airbus-selects-major-aerostructure-suppliers-for-beluga-xl/#
 

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Triton

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"Design decision: Airbus employees put a smile on the BelugaXL’s 'face'"
April 25, 2017

Source:
http://www.airbus.com/newsroom/news/en/2017/04/design-decision-airbus-employees-put-a-smile-on-the-belugaxl-s-face.htm

Smile, it’s often said, and the world smiles with you. If true, the world will soon find itself grinning ear to ear, but it still won’t match the BelugaXL’s supersized expression of joy.

With the first of five next-generation oversize cargo airlifters slated to enter service in 2019, Airbus asked its employees to select how the A330 Family-based BelugaXL should appear to the world. “The six designs we proposed for consideration by employees respected our brand identity while running from the conventional to the unconventional, even adding a touch of fun,” explained Tim Orr, Airbus’ Head of Branding.

Garnering more than 40 per cent of the employees’ vote, the “Smiling BelugaXL” entry – complete with beluga whale-inspired eyes and a happy grin easily won this competition.
With its bulging upper forward fuselage and enormous cargo area (one of the most voluminous of any aircraft in existence, civil or military), Airbus’ BelugaXL will be plenty recognisable as it is. The addition of a happy face to the distinctly-shaped airframe that gave rise to the iconic aircraft’s name will further reinforce it in the public’s mind and help further develop Airbus’ identity.

“It is amazing how our BelugaXL airlifters foster such enthusiasm,” said Bertrand George, Head of the BelugaXL programme. “I’m extremely proud of working on such an important symbol of our company, and I’m sure my team feels the same about this exciting project. I’m already looking forward to seeing our first BelugaXL emerging from the paint shop and greeting the world with a big smile on its face.”

Airbus’ Beluga fleet is used to transport complete sections of the company’s aircraft among production sites around Europe and to final assembly lines in France, Germany and Spain.
Built as a replacement for the five current Beluga A300-600ST versions that entered service beginning in 1996 (based on the A300-600 jetliner), the BelugaXLs are derived from the larger and more powerful A330-200, sized at six metres longer, one metre wider, and boasting a payload lifting capacity that is six tonnes greater than their predecessors. As an example of its increased payload capabilities, a BelugaXL will be able to carry two wings for the new widebody A350 XWB instead of a single wing currently accommodated on the BelugaST.
 

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TomcatViP

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It's not like barging the thing down to every tide changing river they've got down there in the South West of France would be cheaper that a runway extension...
See the manpower needed to keep in touch with every tidal changes and pass under every 18th century bridge from the Atlantic to centrally located Toulouse (maybe 400km from the coast)... Think at the money involved there for the years the program ran (the last shipment was a couple of month ago) and see the crazyness of such money pit.
 

Hobbes

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Airbus strikes me as a rational organization. So maybe extending the runways at Broughton and Bremen is more expensive than their current solution. Have a look at the map: this is Bremen airport and the Airbus factory next to it. You can't extend the runway without bulldozing entire neighborhoods. So they'd have to move the factory.
 

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