The Airbus Transport International (ATI) BelugaXL fleet has received a boost following confirmation that its parent company is to build a sixth example of the oversized transporter. The increased order places the future of ATI’s five A300-600-based transporters under consideration.
The European manufacturer has stated the decision is intended to “future proof [its] internal transport network” and “ensure the capacity provided by can accommodate a range of potential future scenarios”.
Bertrand George, head of the BelugaXL programme at Airbus, explained: “Years from now, we could see situations such as further rate increases for our jetliners or may encounter one of the airlifters being grounded, which would make this ‘extra’ sixth aircraft an essential part of our transport network.”
Previously, plans had been put in place to replace each of the five Belugas, delivered between October 1995 and January 2001, with a like-for-like replacement. The highly modified A330-200s have been tailored to carry large airframe components within Airbus’ aircraft production network and are on schedule to enter service later this year.