Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A new generation of Airbus A330 Beluga Super Transporters? (Update1)

A new generation of Airbus A330 Beluga Super Transporters? (Update1): "
beluga winglets-3.jpg
beluga winglets-2.jpg
beluga winglets.jpgAt first glance, this looks like one of the five heavily modified Airbus A300-600 Beluga Super Transporter, right? Now look again. That is the unmistakable shape of an A330 wing and winglet.

The photos, which appear on the Airbus website and photo gallery (page 15), illustrate an A330-300 heavily modified to a next generation Beluga Super Transporter. A quick back-of-the-napkin calculation places an A330 Beluga about 18% longer than the A300-600.

For its coming production increases, Airbus hopes to eventually achieve a rate of 13 A350s per month, but it would appear more likely that narrowbody production would benefit the most if Airbus uses the A330 as a means to advance beyond 42 A320 family aircraft per month.

From a production ramp up point of view, this fits well into Airbus's Red modus operandi within the Piepenbrock framework. The production system doesn't reinvent the wheel, but takes the existing beluga design and adapts it for an aircraft that already has a fuselage the same width as the A300-600.

UPDATE 1:38 PM ET: The official line from Airbus on the photos is: 'it is indeed a mistake'. The European airframer said it wasn't sure where the graphics came from or why they were posted.

The mistaken publication or creation of the graphics aside, the key question is how far could such an aircraft fly? And more importantly, could it connect central Europe to the southern United States to a city like Mobile, Alabama for example? Toulouse is 4,159 nm, 3,802nm from Broughton and 4,224nm from Hamburg.

As a reference point, an A330-200F has a 4,000nm range with 70t of payload and today's A300-600ST has a range of 1,500nm with 40t and 2,500nm range with 26t.

Photos Credit Airbus


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