With a new loading mechanism for the Beluga A300-600ST aircraft for military cargo, Airbus is enhancing its outsized air freight capabilities. The loading system created by Airbus Defence and Space to load oversized military cargo into the A300-600ST has a 35-ton maximum lifting capacity. During a verification exercise with the German military forces, the system’s initial user, Airbus, successfully demonstrated the functionality of the loading system, which uses no crane and can be moved to the aircraft’s destination. A CH53 military medium-lift helicopter was loaded onto the Beluga as part of the exercise.
“Also on the rise is the demand for large aviation freight capacity. Due to limited capacity and recent geopolitical developments, many customers are searching for innovative, quick, and effective solutions. According to Airbus Defence and Space CEO Michael Schoellhorn, this is precisely what we provide with our BelugaST fleet. “Our teams have been hard at work developing a fantastic method to enable the quick, effective, and autonomous loading of big military cargo onto aircraft. For our customers, speed, agility, and independence are essential components in such operations.
The technique enables preparations for loading a CH53 in a reduced stage of dismantling to be finished in less than 1.5 hours, while the actual loading procedure can be finished in around an hour. This self-funded freight loading system and jig took 1.5 years to develop and manufacture. The fleet of five BelugaST aircraft was only utilized as part of the company’s production system to move major aircraft sections between different Airbus facilities prior to the company’s announcement earlier this year that it would start offering these services.
Six new BelugaXL aircraft based on the bigger A330-200 platform will replace the BelugaST fleet.