Airbus will make its first flight with a Beluga freighter to Latin America on July 24. The aircraft, model A300-600ST, will transport an ACH160 helicopter to Brazil.
The aircraft, which has a resized fuselage to accommodate sections of commercial aircraft, will make a technical stopover in Fortaleza before continuing on to Viracopos Airport. The ACH160 helicopter, with capacity for up to 10 passengers, will also make its debut in the region.
The Beluga that will be used in the flight is of the first generation, also called BelugaST. It has been in operation since 1995, serving as a parts transport aircraft between Airbus plants.
However, with the entry into service of the second generation, the BelugaXL, with greater capacity (since it is based on the A330-200), the BelugaST was shifted to a new mission, providing services to third parties, within Airbus Beluga Transport, a airline created by the European manufacturer.
The Beluga was developed as a replacement for the Super Guppy, an American four-engine turboprop aircraft that Airbus acquired to enable decentralized production of its commercial jets, which includes facilities in France, Germany, England and Spain, among others.
In addition to being old, the Super Guppy had a limited capacity, which led the company to plan a freighter of its own, which earned the nickname because of its resemblance to the cetacean animal.
According to Airbus, the BelugaST holds up to 47 tons of cargo and has a maximum range of 4,632 km with a load of 26 tons. The BelugaXL, on the other hand, can fly distances of up to 4,000 km, but with 51 tons of payload.