In the past we had a post about the mighty Antonov (Mriya), the aircraft with the world’s largest payload capacity. Now we have the A300-600ST Super Transporter (a.k.a. The Beluga) a plane featuring one of the most voluminous cargo holds of any civil or military aircraft flying today, with a main deck cargo volume greater than the Antonov An-124.
The Beluga was specially designed to transport complete sections of Airbus aircraft, from several production sites around Europe to the final assembly lines in France or Germany. According to its manufacturer, the Beluga’s large cargo compartment makes it the only aircraft in the world able to transport 4.88-metre x 4.88-metre cross-section loads.
Beluga combines outside outsized cargo-carrying capability with the jet speed and efficiency of Airbus’s A300-600 airliner.
It enables short transport times for just-in-time production, and the large main cargo deck minimizes the need for payload breakdown, crating and packaging.
The semi-automated main deck cargo loading system ensures easy and efficient handling of payloads, controlled by the trained crews of Airbus Transport International – which operates the five-aircraft Beluga fleet: Airbus.com
According to Wikipedia, one of the Beluga’s purposes is to carry awkward cargo. One of the items carried by the Beluga was the famous painting ‘La Liberté guidant le peuple’ by Eugène Delacroix. International Space Station components and fully assembled helicopters have also been transported by the Beluga fleet of 5 aircraft, when it is not being used for shipping Airbus components.
September 20th, 2011.