Airbus SAS’s record aircraft output relies increasingly on a fleet of transport planes named after an arctic whale that help ferry large parts across Europe.
The European manufacturer plans to operate its fleet of five Belugas at 10,000 hours annually by 2017. That’s twice their usage in 2011, as the hunchbacked jets carry more components between Germany, France, Spain and the U.K.
With facilities scattered around Europe, the Belugas are a vital tool in piecing together the new A350, Airbus’s most advanced jet and its attempt to win a larger slice from Boeing in the wide-body market. Since the first Beluga entered service two decades ago, production has quadrupled to 600 planes a year. The new A350 wide-body jet will further lift output, forcing to Airbus to push its Belugas to new limits.
For the complete story by Andrea Rothman of Bloomberg.com, click here.