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Airbus To Build New Beluga Transporter

Airbus will build a new fleet of the outsized cargo planes it uses to transport aircraft sections between its key European factories.

The five new aircraft, based on the A330 passenger plane, will replace the current A300-based model, nicknamed Beluga after the bulbous shape of its expanded fuselage.

The new Beluga fleet will be ready for use in mid-2019, Airbus said in a statement. It did not disclose the cost.

Airbus assembles most of its aircraft in France and Germany from sections made in Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

The new transporter will continue to ferry aircraft sections between the four main sites, but will not be used for offshore assembly plants, which will continue to be served by sea.

Airbus assembles some A320s in China and is building a similar assembly facility in the US.