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Airbus A300-600ST

Beluga — Super Transporter

The Airbus’ Beluga is the world’s largest cargo carrier, designed to transport complete sections of aircraft.

Also known as the Super Transporter, the Beluga is more than 184 feet long and can carry a payload of 47 tons over a range of 900 nautical miles. A fleet of five Belugas is in operation today with Airbus, with the first being introduced in 1995. Its unique design, which includes the world’s largest main cargo deck, features a nose that opens to load the bulkiest items.

The Beluga was created as a solution to Airbus’ manufacturing needs. The multinational consortium manufactures sections of its aircraft in four European countries — France, Germany, Great Britain, and Spain. The sections, including fuselages and wings, are then transported by the Beluga to be assembled at a central location.

The Beluga has been used to carry space station payloads from Italy to the Kennedy Space Station in Florida, chartered to make commercial flights, and used to transport military helicopters, chemical tanks, and even large French paintings.

Photo: Adam Berry | Bloomberg | Getty Images