Aernnova will have work for 100 engineers for two years at its facilities in the Alava and Bizkaia technology parks, to design and build the rear fuselage and dorsal fin of the Airbus Beluga XL, a new air transporter that will enter service in 2019, the Basque company has reported. The company will participate in the design, industrialisation, manufacture and assembly of three sections, requiring more than 350,000 hours of product engineering, which gives an idea of the scale of the project.
As well as designing these sections, Aernnova will assume responsibility for the manufacture and assembly of the aerostructures, which represents a workload equivalent to 50 jobs. Assembly will take place at the Aernnova Aeroestructuras plant in Alava and manufacturing “at different locations”.
The current Beluga is a special air transporter that carries large Airbus airframe components for final assembly. It was designed by Airbus, based on the A300-600 with important modifications, and came into service in 1996. There are 5 units currently in operation. The design of the new Beluga XL is based on the current Airbus A330 and the increase in length and width is intended to provide an additional 30% air transport capacity, compared to the current generation. For a time, the Beluga XL will operate simultaneously with the current model, until the withdrawal of the last of the earlier units in 2025.
Aernnova began its participation in special transport or oversize aircraft transformation projects, which are characterized by high technical requirements and response capability (time to market) to new challenges, in 2004, with the contract with Boeing to develop the forward fuselage section (including the opening and closing mechanism) for the Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter, also designed to transport structural sections to the final assembly lines.
By participating in the new Beluga XL, Aernnova strengthens its capabilities in the development of this type of aircraft and consolidates its position in a niche market with a strong demand for engineering skills.