The Whale That Can Fly

July 23 is World Whale and Dolphin Day. This holiday was established in 1986 when the International Whaling Commission, after 200 years of merciless extermination, voted to ban whale hunting.

“Why are we all so fond of whales?

–  What do you mean?

–  People write about them in verse and name films after them. Why whales that can fly?

–  Because it’s their dream.

–  How do you know?

–  I have heard the legend that whales jump out of the water to try to take off. It is their dream. They jump out of the water and each time they fall, getting bruised by the water. They strive for their dreams, even though it is not possible. The whale has a dream … ” (A folk story)

We write about the incarnation of their dreams – the flight, in the theme of the approaching Day of whales. Yes, people taught a whale (albeit an unreal one) to fly. Meet A300-600ST (Super Transporter) or, in the whale terminology, Airbus Beluga. At the first glance at this huge aircraft you can’t help but wonder: can this thing really fly?! The enormous plane daunts by its size, but Airbus Beluga can not exactly be called scary- it resembles a gigantic sea creature, the only difference is that you don’t need to feed it fish. The aircraft was named Beluga because of its striking resemblance to a beluga whale. Initially, it wasn’t the name the creators had in mind for the aircraft. But everyone who saw this aircraft could not help but think of association with the whale. A300-600ST Beluga- This wide-body transporter jet is designed to carry oversized cargo. It is a twin-engine with swept wings and one side plumage. Currently there are only five of these aircrafts operated by Airbus. But, of course, they are also offered on chatter basis and even the German military used them several times. However, the “whales” will never be sold to a foreign manufacturer. Once there was talk about the sale of one aircraft to the American postal company FedEx. But as soon as there was a rumour that they were going to resell it to another airline inventor- the Boeing Company- the deal was canceled. This is the main reason that “Beluga” floats only in the territorial waters of its creator: its design is too perfect to be devoured by competitors. Why was this giant created? A300-600ST Beluga was designed to transport aircraft components. The fact is that Airbus manufacturing sites are scattered all around the world. The main production facilities are located in Germany, France, Spain and the UK. Aircraft parts produced in four countries are transported by air to the main plants for final assembly. The final assembly factories are in Hamburg (Germany) and Toulouse (France). To someone it might seem illogical to produce a huge, strange and expensive aircraft in order to create other planes. However, in 1990s the intensity of the factories of Airbus was so high that the first plane “Beluga” made 60 flights a week, shuttling between the 11 factories of the company. One plane made up to 250 flights per month. Airbus freighter was created on the basis of a typical wide body airframe, which was used for the production of A300 passenger aircraft. The cockpit of the transporter is completely identical to that of the A300-600 aircraft. The nose section is equipped with everything that you may need for a comfortable work for crew during the flight and while being on the ground. In particular, it has two seats for people accompanying the goods, a sleeping cabin, a toilet and even a small kitchen. On A300-600ST Beluga two motors of General Electric CF6-80C2A8 are installed.



Now Airbus is working on a next transport model based on the Airbus A340. The fact is that the “whale” fleet has been flying for over 20 years and will soon come to the end of its service life while the demand for the heavy cargo transporters is still high. The first new generation super transport aircrafts will conquer the sky in 2019. They will operate in parallel with the existing Airbus A300- 600ST, which is to be progressively retired through 2025.


Length – 56.15 m
Height – 17,24 m
Wingspan – 44,84 m
Wing area – 122,40 sq.m.
Case diameter – 3.92 m and 7.1 m (cargo compartment)

Volume of cargo compartment – 1 400 cubic meters
Weight: take-off – 155 tons; empty – 86 tons; the maximum weight of cargo – 47 tons

Engines – two General Electric
The Speed – 750 km /h
Maximum range
2800 km (at a load of 40 tons) and 4632 km (at a load of 26 tons) Practical ceiling – 10 700 m
Crew – 2 people
Quantity – 5 pcs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *