Beluga birthday

The Airbus Beluga freighter is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first flight.
The “white whale” freighter replaced the ageing Super Guppy transporters from 1995 in order to supply plane maker Airbus’ final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg.
Today, more than sixty flights are performed each week between eleven sites, carrying parts for all of the Airbus programmes, including the A380.
The five-strong Beluga fleet is operated by Airbus Transport International, an Airbus subsidiary airline. 
With the production start of the A350 XWB in 2012 and the production ramp-up on other Airbus programmes, the Beluga fleet activity will increase substantially over the next five years.
Airbus says that flight hours per aircraft will double by 2017 (from 5,000 to 10,000 flight hours).
“The Beluga is an essential element of Airbus’ integrated logistics and production ‎system. It is thanks to its reliability and engagement of the Beluga teams that we can fulfil our constant pursuit of efficiency”, says Günter Butschek, Airbus chief operating officer.
The Beluga is based on the twin-engine A300-600R and can carry a maximum payload of 47 tonnes non-stop over a range of 1,660 km.

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