It’s gigantic, it’s shaped like a whale and has wings. It’s the Airbus Beluga, the biggest plane in the world, and it just landed in Mumbai. This is the first time the Super Transporter (A300-600ST) has made a pit stop in the city.
The whale-shaped plane is used to transport oversized cargo. Before Mumbai, he landed at Kolkata airport on Sunday after midnight to refuel and rest for the crew. The plane is not seen too often in our part of the world, but it is said to have flown in the capital of West Bengal before.
We take a look at the plane and what makes it a cut on the rest.
The A300-600ST Beluga: a flying giant
The A300-600ST Beluga, aka Beluga ST, is gigantic with a length of 56.15 meters, a height of 17.24 meters and a wingspan of 44.84 meters manufactured by the European aerospace multinational Airbus. It can carry 47,000 kg of cargo, the largest hold for a civilian or military aircraft in flight today.
A bigger plane needs a bigger engine to run. Air Bus Beluga is equipped with GE CF6-80C2A8 engines which provide a cruise speed of 0.7 Mach. The maximum operating altitude is 35,000 feet.
The plane costs around $284 million.
Also Read: Russian Forces Destroy World’s Largest Cargo Plane In Ukraine: Everything You Need To Know About Mriya
The name of the game
The OG Beluga – the A330-200 airliner – first flew in 1994. It was officially called the Super Transporter. However, he quickly earned the nickname Beluga, he is white and his forehead resembles the sociable whales with prominent foreheads.
The A300-600ST, the aircraft that landed in Mumbai, entered service in January 1996.
Conveying of goods
The hold of the A300-600ST is 7.08 meters high and 7.04 meters wide for a useful length of 37.70 meters. The position of the main deck allows for easy taxiing and taxiing for cargo transfer. It comes with a large one-piece main cargo door, which swings forward and up, providing wide access to the cargo compartment, according to the website. Aerospace Technology.
The plane is large enough to carry two Chinook transport helicopters with the blades folded down and without having to disassemble and reassemble them.
The cockpit has controls for a transportable heating module, which provides temperature-controlled conditions for sensitive payloads like satellites and even paintings. The Super Transporter has played a crucial role in transporting space station items, helicopters, artwork and humanitarian aid.
In 2022, it delivered a new satellite to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. Its large cargo door and hold make this freighter the ideal tool for transporting next-generation space equipment. In 2004, it carried the Eutelsat W3A satellite to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan. It carried large and delicate space systems like the 3,500 kg, 9 meter long aluminum fuel tank for the NASA X-33 Venture Star spacecraft.
In 1999, the plane carried the famous painting Liberty Leading the People by 18th-century French artist Eugène Delacroix from France to the Tokyo National Museum.
The largest beluga
Currently, there are five versions of Beluga aircraft in service, the last one started operations in 2000. There are no plans yet for the production of a sixth Beluga.
The BelugaSTs are gradually being replaced by a fleet of new generation BelugaXL versions. At 63.1 meters long, the XL is more than twice the size of the blue whale (which measures 24 to 30 meters), the largest living mammal on Earth.
The BelugaXL has two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 Turbofan engines to power it through the skies, costing around $40 million each. The entire program to build these machines cost more than a billion dollars.
The Guppy before the Beluga
The Beluga was developed as a successor to the Super Guppy.
Created by NASA, it first flew in the 1960s and played a big role in America’s space race. At the time, rocket parts were transported to Cape Kennedy through the Panama Canal or the Gulf of Mexico on barges. It took a long time, which delayed the country’s face program.
In 1962, a new aircraft was built with the widest cargo bay ever, nearly 20 feet in diameter. According to a report by CNN. It was called the Pregnant Guppy, the first of a series of eight Guppy aircraft that would be built later.
A retired US Air Force pilot, Jack Conroy, who designed the first Guppy plane, founded a company, Aero Spacelines, to build and operate the plane, which ended up being 16 feet longer than the Boeing 377, and the only aircraft in the world capable of carrying the upper stage of a Saturn rocket for the Apollo program, reports CNN.
In 1965, a sequel to the aircraft was created and was called the Super Guppy. He served NASA for over three decades, supporting its various space programs.
With contributions from agencies
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