- Joe Breitfeller
Airbus Successfully Tests Loading System on Beluga for Outsized Military Cargo
Airbus Defence and Space has developed and successfully tested a loading system designed to lift outsized military cargo into the Airbus Beluga A300-600ST aircraft. The capability was demonstrated during a verification exercise with the German armed forces.
On Wednesday (September 21, 2022), Airbus Defence and Space announced the successful development and testing of a loading system designed to lift outsized military cargo into the Airbus Beluga A300-600ST aircraft. The capability was texted during a verification exercise in Manching, Germany, which was conducted in collaboration with the German armed forces, the system’s first customer. During the exercise a CH53 military medium lift helicopter was successfully loaded into the Beluga. The new self-funded cargo loading system and jig was developed by engineers at Airbus Defence and Space.
In Wednesday’s announcment, Airbus Defence and Space’s CEO, Michael Schoellhorn, said,
“The demand for outsized air cargo capability is on the rise. Capacity is scarce and, in light of current geopolitical developments, many customers are looking for new, fast and efficient solutions. This is exactly what we offer with our BelugaST fleet. Our teams have been working on a remarkable solution to facilitate a speedy, efficient and autonomous handling to load heavy military cargo onto the aircraft. Speed, agility and autonomy are crucial elements for our customers when it comes to such operations.”
The Airbus Defence and Space team developed the new loading system from scratch in approximately 1.5 years, from the initial exchange of ideas with the German military to its verification, still subject to final confirmation by the Bundeswehr in the coming weeks. One of the benefits of the loading system is that it enables the loading of a CH53 helicopter in a reduced state of dismantling, a process that can be accomplished in less than 1.5 hours. Then, the actual loading process into the Beluga can be achieved in around one hour. The system has a total lifting capacity of 35 tons and can also be relocated to the aircraft’s destination for unloading.
Earlier this year, Airbus announced that with the advent of the new BelugaXL, based on the larger A330-200 platform, the existing BelugaST fleet would be made available for customer transport services worldwide. Previously, the fleet of five previous generation Belugas were used exclusively for the transport of large aircraft sections between various Airbus sites.