- Its analysis has determined that the Airbus A330-200's performance can meet the runway demands, and that the aircraft - modified in a similar way to the Beluga - would be large enough to transport A350 wings.
- The airframer has also noted that other longer payloads - such as combined A350 and A320 sections - could be accommodated by a modified A330-300, but the type's landing capability is more marginal.
- Tom Williams says the company will "probably have some kind of hybrid aircraft" to balance the demands. He adds that there is also a debate whether to modify second-hand airframes or build a new aircraft.
- He says the Beluga replacement is still under study and that no conclusions have been reached. But he says the airframer "needs to come to a point before the year end".
- Such is the demand for the A350, says Williams, that the ramp-up of production might need its own dedicated Beluga operation.
- He says the airframer is trying to "reduce its dependency" on the current Beluga fleet, particularly for the A320 family, by taking advantage of road transport, which is less expensive and less prone to being affected by weather.
I suppose that he means a 330 that is neither exactly a -200, nor a -300. In other words, the aircraft would be optimised for the job, with a capacity close to that of a -300 and the landing capability of a -200.
What kind of airplane characteristics would we need to modify for it to be able to land in shorter distances? Would a bigger wing and an extra MLG help? Something like an A330-300 with the wings and MLG of an A340-500?
I have a pdf file, I found once on the net, regarding the new Beluga, it is too big to attach it here, 1,7 MB.
The most likely version was a A330-200ST. The limitation excluding the A330-300ST and A340-500ST was the landing at Broughton, Hawarden Airport. The diameter of the fuselage slightly bigger than the A300ST, accommodating a pair of wings rather than one wing for the A350-1000. Time frame (draft)feasibility until end of 2013, concept until middle of 2015, definition until end of 2016, assembly from middle 2016 to middle 2018, FF middle 2018, flight test until end of Q1 2019.