TOULOUSE – Airbus is embarking on a special air freight adventure. In current job vacancies, the group is looking for pilots for the A300-600ST Beluga “to deliver oversized air cargo in a global network”. The war in Ukraine increased the demand for special cargo ships for the transfer of military equipment.
Big mouth, a lot behind: Nevertheless, after more than 25 years in the traffic of Airbus companies, the BelugaST has slowly but surely become obsolete. Airbus is now flying more and more parts between factories with the new – and even more powerful – BelugaXL based on the A330-200.
However, Airbus is far from sending the BelugaST into retirement. Before the end of the year, Airbus intends to welcome F-GSTB, Beluga #2, and F-GSTC, Beluga #3, in a new group-owned Ops and make them available to the global charter market.
As soon as the six new BelugaXLs are in service, the entire BelugaST fleet of five aircraft will be entrusted to a newly created subsidiary with its own AOC and staff. The project is currently still ongoing under the working title “Airbus Beluga Transport” – and is rapidly taking shape.
By job ad (Link via SkyJobs.com) As of this week, Airbus is looking for a co-pilot for deployment on the BelugaST. Requirement: “Experience of at least 5,000 flight hours, of which 3,000 were in commercial jet operations with conventional control units.”
Airbus had only made public plans for the group’s own charter airline Beluga in January 2022. The war in Ukraine changed the world situation a month later.
The largest cargo plane in the world, the An-225, fell victim to Russian artillery in the early hours of the war. Antonov Airlines can only offer charter flights with five An-124s based in Leipzig/Halle. Russian special cargo airlines like Volga-Dnepr are under sanctions.
“With the loss of the Antonov fleet, there is now a void in the region for wide-body transport aircraft,” said Airbus armament division chief Michael Schöllhorn last week on the sidelines of the ILA in Berlin. “We want to prove ourselves with the Beluga in this market.”
Airbus is expecting civil demand, for example from the space sector, but also wants to market BelugaST capacities to governments for the transport of military equipment.
15,000 flight hours remaining by BelugaST
The A300-600ST Beluga is designed for short hops between Airbus factories in Europe and can carry up to 40 tonnes of cargo. During a test flight to Japan at the end of 2021, the BelugaST #3 had to refuel in Warsaw, Novosibirsk and Seoul.
Airbus put the five special freighters into service between October 1995 and January 2001. According to Airbus, the planes still have at least 15 to 20 years of service – the BelugaSTs have completed on average only 15,000 of the possible 30,000 flight cycles .
© aero.de | Illustration: Airbus | 06/28/2022 17:00