By Tyler Giunchi 05/04/2021 1527 views

Airbus vs. Boeing has forever been a heated competition with both aircraft manufacturing giants always competing to have the best aircraft. But how do they transport these massive aircraft parts? Do they use boats or trucks? actually most of the time, they will end up using planes. Airbus has their fleet of transporters known as the Beluga an Boeing has their fleet of Dreamlifters. But which one is better and what are some of the key differences worth noting about these engineering spectacles? 

The Airbus Beluga is known to be one of the oddest looking aircraft out there with it's very bulbous shape on top. The first of these aircraft went into production in 1992 using an older A300-600 aircraft. Airbus cut out the top of the fuselage and put a larger top on the airframe. The vertical was then swapped out for a taller a340 tail and the cockpit was also moved below where the cargo floor is. Everything else on the aircraft remained the same including the engines, wings, and wheels. 

There is a downfall to the aircraft though, the cargo bay is not pressurized, making it impossible to transport large items that need pressurization. The aircraft is mainly used to transport the fuselage of airplanes, but once in a while it will carry other forms of cargo. For example, it carried the International Space Station's Columbus module from Germany to Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

The Airbus Beluga is seen in Hamburg, Germany | Cornelius Grossman | Wikimedia Commons

The Boeing Dreamlifter on the other hand is an almost completely different aircraft with the body coming from a modified 747-400 freighter. The first aircraft was converted in 2006 with all four of the aircraft being completed by 2010. Boeing built this aircraft in order to transport the large fuselages of the 787 Dreamliner for the Antonov-225 was not large enough to transport the parts. When built, the aircraft had the largest cargo capacity of any aircraft in the world.

Like the Beluga, the Dreamlifter has also been used to transport other things beside aircraft parts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Boeing used the Dreamlifter to transport hospital supplies. The aircraft cargo hold is also not pressurized which makes it hard to transport items that need pressurization. The manufacturer built the aircraft, but contracts Atlas Air to fly the planes. 

The Dreamlifter on short final into HKG | Arthur Chow | AeroXplorer

The Dreamlifter is overall a better cargo aircraft than the Beluga because of the large amount of storage and a very large range. Airbus has recently started using a new fuselage transporter known as the Beluga XL. It is larger than the older Beluga and it can also travel farther. It was built to handle the fuselage of the A350 aircraft. Instead of the aircraft being based off of an old A300, this one is now built from an A330 and has also been built to help out the current Beluga fleet. With recent increases in demand, Airbus needed an aircraft that could fly more than five times per day and carry more than the current Belugas. 
An Airbus Beluga XL at Airbus' factory in Toulouse, France | Nuiteux 731 | Wikimedia Commons

Overall, both the Beluga and the Dreamlifter are very useful aircraft. Whether they are transporting airplane parts or not, both of these companies have a very useful method to transport cargo. There is no doubt that these aircraft will be around for years to come and until widebody aircraft production comes to an end (which it probably never will) new types of these aircraft will be needed in the future and question is just what super transporter will we see next?

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