The Airbus Beluga Landed in the U.S. After More Than a Decade, Powered by SAF

Thirteen years ago, the Airbus Beluga traveled to the U.S. with a special purpose – to deliver the European module “Tranquility” for the International Space Station (ISS). Now, it landed on American soil once again, with a similar mission but a significant change that reflects aviation’s current focus on green operations.
The Airbus Beluga landed in Florida after more than a decade since it had visited the U.S. 8 photos
Photo: Airbus
Airbus BelugaSTHOTBIRD Satellite Loaded Onto the Airbus BelugaSTAirbus BelugaSTAirbus BelugaSTAirbus BelugaSTAirbus BelugaST Delivered a New SatelliteAirbus BelugaST Landed in Florida
If some of you are wondering how come you’ve barely (or maybe never) heard of this weird-looking aircraft, that’s because, for a long time, it was only used by its manufacturer, Airbus, for internal operations (such as delivering large components from one facility to another). In fact, the Beluga has been around for decades. But it slowly started to be used in other sectors as well, including military and space.

This is also what brought the BelugaST to the U.S. this time. It delivered a satellite at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, in Florida. The Airbus-built HOTBIRD 13G satellite is part of the innovative “Eurostar Neo” family of telecommunication satellites, developed together with ESA (European Space Agency).

Only a few hours before this satellite was delivered, its twin, the HOTBIRD 13F, had been launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The 13G will also make its way in orbit a month from now.

A milestone in itself, this flight to the U.S. was also made special by the use of SAF (sustainable aviation fuel). According to Airbus, the Beluga flew from Toulouse, France, to Florida, powered by 30% SAF. This is just one of the many pioneering flights that Airbus has accomplished using varying ratios of green jet fuel on its way to eventually launching 100% SAF-powered operations.

Based on the A300-600 platform, the BelugaST is a 184-foot (56 meters) cargo aircraft with a 155-ton payload. Its distinctive design makes loading and unloading different types of cargo easier and the aircraft itself more versatile.

The Airbus Beluga Transport Service was inaugurated at the beginning of this year. This makes the BelugaST available for carrying unusually-large cargo in various parts of the world for different customers. A larger version, the BelugaXL, is also coming up.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
press release
About the author: Otilia Drăgan
Otilia Drăgan profile photo

Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories