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                        An Airbus A300-600ST Beluga oversize airlifter transports the vertical tail plane for Qatar Airways’ first A350-900 jetliner from Stade, Germany to the A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse, France

                        Transport of major aircraft sections

                        Airbus’ own airlifter fleet

                        A350-900 25 April 2012

                        A350XWB aft fuselage section

                        Airbus delivered the A350 XWB static test airframe’s aft fuselage to the final assembly line in Toulouse, France, for assembly with the front and centre fuselage sections

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                        An A350 XWB aft fuselage section is delivered to the final assembly line via Airbus’ Beluga airlifter.

                        Airbus has developed its own transportation system to airlift the large, pre-assembled sections of its jetliners from their production locations to final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg. This service is performed by five A300-600ST Super Transporters, with the next-generation fleet currently in development.

                        The modified A300-600s, nicknamed the “Beluga,” have a bulbous main-deck cargo cabin which enables the loading of complete fuselage sections and wings. Operated by Airbus Transport International, the Super Transporter is able to carry a 47-metric-tonne (103,616 lb.) payload over a range of 900 nautical miles (1,667 km.).

                        To support planned production rate increases, Airbus is expanding its existing A300-600ST fleet with the development and production of five new Beluga aircraft – called BelugaXL – which are derived from the company’s versatile A330 wide-body product line, with an entry-into-service by early 2020.

                        Multimode transport for A380

                        Aircraft sections are transported to Toulouse, France by sea, river and road.

                        The A380’s size means its fuselage and wing sections are shipped via a surface transportation network that includes specially-commissioned roll-on roll-off ships to carry these sections from production sites in France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom to the French city of Bordeaux. From there, sections are transported by barge along the Garonne River to the Toulouse final assembly line.

                        As for other Airbus aircraft programmes, production of the A380 takes place in different sites across Europe. Each produces completely equipped sections, which are transported to the final assembly line. Most A380 sections are transported to Toulouse by sea, river and road. A number of smaller components, such as the vertical fin produced in Stade or the nose section produced in Meaulte, France, are carried in Airbus’ Beluga fleet.

                        Shipping A380 aircraft sections

                        Germany 19 October 2004

                        A380 barge

                        Airbus utilizes multiple roll-on/roll-off cargo ships to transport certain A380 components between European production sites

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                        Airbus uses roll-on/roll-off vessels to transport large aircraft sections via sea.

                        All large A380 sections are transported by truck from inland production sites to the nearest river or sea port. Wings, for example, travel by barge along the River Dee from Broughton in North Wales to the Dee estuary, where they are loaded onto a large capacity roll-on/roll-off vessel. The craft is used to move aircraft sections by sea to the French port of Pauillac, near Bordeaux.

                        Here, the components are transferred to specially-designed barges, which carry them on the penultimate part of their 95 km. voyage up Garonne River from Pauillac to Langon. Four river journeys are required to transport fuselage sections and the horizontal tail plane of one airliner. In Langon, aircraft sections are transferred to outsized-load trucks to complete their journey to Toulouse by road.

                        A global reach

                        What is to become the 50th A320 Family jetliner made in America is loaded in Hamburg.

                        For the A320 Family of jetliners, Airbus expanded its final assembly facilities beyond the original European locations in Toulouse and Hamburg, to sites in two other key world markets – China (at Tianjin) and the United States (in Mobile, Alabama).

                        These latest assembly locations are supplied via sea-going shipments. For example, the Mobile Express ship carries subassemblies for the single-aisle Family jetliners during a transatlantic voyage from the industrial site in Saint-Nazaire, France to the Manufacturing Facility in Alabama on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The ship, which is a part of Airbus’ fleet of aquatic vessels, transports major A320 Family components that include fuselage sections, wings and pylons, as well as vertical and horizontal stabilisers.

                        Design offices and engineering centres


                        Transport of major aircraft sections

                        Final assembly and tests

                        Test programme and certification

                        Delivering to the customer

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