Airbus is going to retire A300-600ST transporters as Beluga XL versions arrive, while seeking ETOPS approval to make them transatlantic.
The news was announced by Beluga XL chief engineer Pascal Vialleton at the Royal Aeronautical Society event on February 4, as reported by FlightGlobal.
Airbus A300-600ST Beluga and Beluga XL super-sized transporters are used by the company for hauling its aircraft components between factories.
The Beluga XL with 30% larger cargo capacity was introduced in 2018. At the time Airbus said it was not intending to retire older models at least for a while, as ever-increasing manufacturing capacities kept every plane busy.
Three Beluga XLs are operational, with two more in the plans. According to Vialleton, their larger capacity would allow phasing out first-generation Belugas.
Furthermore, Airbus will seek extended twin-engine operations (ETOPS) approval for the last of two transporters, which will allow it to perform transatlantic flights. It is scheduled to be completed in 2023 and may be used for transporting satellites to be launched in the United States.