Airbus expands outsize air cargo capabilities
21 / 09 / 2022
The CH53 helicopter was successfully loaded into the Beluga during the test exercise. Photo: Airbus
Airbus is expanding its outsized air cargo capabilities with a new loading system for the Beluga A300-600ST aircraft for military cargo.
The total lifting capacity of the Airbus Defence and Space-developed loading system to move outsized military cargo into the A300-600ST reaches 35 tonnes.
Airbus successfully tested the capability of the loading system, which requires no crane for its use and can be relocated to the aircraft’s destination, during a verification exercise with the German armed forces, the system’s first customer.
The exercise involved loading a CH53 military medium-lift helicopter into the Beluga.
“The demand for outsized air cargo capability is on the rise. Capacity is scarce and, in light of current geopolitical developments, many customers are looking for new, fast and efficient solutions. This is exactly what we offer with our BelugaST fleet,” said Michael Schoellhorn, chief executive of Airbus Defence and Space.
“Our teams have been working on a remarkable solution to facilitate a speedy, efficient and autonomous handling to load heavy military cargo onto the aircraft.
“Speed, agility and autonomy are crucial elements for our customers when it comes to such operations.”
The system enables arrangements for the loading of a CH53 in a reduced state of dismantling to be completed within less than 1.5 hours while the actual loading process into the Beluga aircraft can be accomplished in about an hour.
This self-funded cargo loading system and jig was developed and manufactured in 1.5 years.
Prior to announcing plans to offer the services of its existing BelugaST fleet earlier this year, the fleet of five aircraft was solely used for the transport of large aircraft sections between various Airbus sites as part of the company’s production system.
The BelugaST fleet is being replaced by six new BelugaXLs based on the larger A330-200 platform.