Airbus Beluga Nantes-Toulouse Declares Emergency

An Airbus Beluga on the taxiway.
MarcelX42, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An Airbus Beluga heavy transporter operating from Nantes to Toulouse declared an emergency whilst en route on 16 April 2024.

Airbus A330 Beluga, registration F-GLXJ was operating a transport flight between Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTN) and Toulouse–Blagnac Airport (TLS).

Airbus Beluga Nantes-Toulouse

The flight declared an emergency, squawking transponder code 7700 roughly halfway through the regional flight.

Onwards Cruise at Reduced Altitude

Having declared the emergency whilst descending from the cruise, the flight then continued to Toulouse at the reduced altitude of 10,000 feet.

Flight data for the service shows that the Airbus Beluga departed Nantes at 19:37 local time on 16 April.

The flight then a set course normally on the southerly route for Toulouse, climbing to FL23 (23,000 feet). At 17:56 UTC the flight commenced a descent from cruising altitude.

Transponder code 7700, indicating a general emergency, was transmitted shortly thereafter. The aircraft subsequently continues descent to 10,000 feet.

The remainder of the flight to Toulouse was then conducted at the reduced altitude of 10,000 feet. The nature of the issue prompting the emergency declaration has not been confirmed.

A330-700L Beluga F-GXLJ

Aircraft conducting the regional flight was Airbus A330-700L Beluga XL, registered F-GXLJ. This is a 2.7 year old heavy cargo aircraft operated by Airbus Transport International.

The aircraft has been in service since its initial delivery in October 2021.

An Airbus Beluga on the taxiway.
MarcelX42, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Airbus Transport International (ATI) is the air cargo subsidiary of Airbus, specializing in the transport of large aircraft parts and assemblies.

Here’s a breakdown of their key functions:

  • Internal Transportation: ATI’s main role is to move pre-assembled Airbus components, like wings and fuselage sections, between various production sites across Europe. This intricate network ensures a steady flow of parts for final assembly [].
  • Signature Aircraft: Their fleet consists entirely of the unique Beluga aircraft, formally known as the A300-600ST Super Transporter. These Belugas are recognizable for their bulbous upper fuselage, offering one of the largest cargo capacities of any operational civil aircraft [].
  • Charter Services: While their primary focus is internal logistics, ATI also offers charter flights for oversized cargo to commercial and military clients, utilizing any spare capacity in their Beluga fleet.

In essence, ATI acts as the backbone of Airbus’s production network, keeping the assembly lines in France and Germany running smoothly with their fleet of Beluga aircraft.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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