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High winds will be less of a blow to Beluga schedules

Beluga Building

Beluga Building

Works to construct a new state of the art loading bay for the Airbus Beluga Super Transporter at the Broughton plant is almost complete.

Works began to build the Beluga Line Station in July 2014 and are due to complete early this year.

The building will be crucial in reducing weather related delays to loading the aircraft. The vast structure will protect the Airbus which cannot open its main door in winds exceeding 30 knots; the new line station will therefore shelter the Airbus’ vast 1,400m3 main cargo deck.

Construction works on site followed extensive infrastructure works at Broughton over the past year which has included re-routing of roads on the site, building a new taxiway and preparing foundations and a base for the building.

Stephen Fowles, Head of Buildings and Construction for the UK said:

“We are often at the mercy of the weather, so this new building will provide a sheltered loading bay which will mean we won’t always need to wait for the wind to drop before we can open the Beluga’s main door. It should reduce weather-related impact on the schedules.

“The vast majority of work will take place during the daytime, although some has to take place at night when the runway is not in use. While the site is well within the plant perimeter, we will be taking measures to ensure all work has minimal impact on nearby residents. We have been in contact with residents in the immediate vicinity and we’ve also contacted community leaders about the work.”

John Sisk and Sons has been appointed as principal contractor for the work. The company is a member of the considerate contractor scheme and the construction will be BREEAM accredited which means it will apply the best practices in sustainable building, design and operation.

Five Beluga aircraft form the backbone of the Airbus transport operation and deliver the wings assembled at Broughton for the A320, A330 and A350 families to the final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg, as well as ferrying components between Broughton and Airbus sites at Nantes and Saint-Nazaire in France, Hamburg and Bremen in Germany and Getafe in Spain.

Beluga Building

More than £1.9 billion has been invested in the Broughton plant over the last 15 years, and the Beluga Line Station is the latest example of Airbus’ commitment to maintaining state of the art manufacturing facilities.

The Beluga is a purpose built transporter aircraft based on the first ever Airbus model, the A300 which made its first flight on 13 September 1994. The Beluga is 56 metres long, 17 metres high and its cargo bay measures 7.71 metres wide.

The aircraft can transport four single-aisle (A320 Family) wings, two A330 wings or one A350 wing. A380 wings are too large to be carried by Beluga – the only part of the A380 that can be transported is the vertical tail plane.

The Beluga Airbus can travel up to 2,500nm with a 31 ton payload of 900nm with a 47 ton payload. Cruising altitude for the Beluga is up to 30,000ft.


Edward Dewhurst Limited

 Edward Dewhurst Limited specialise in the installation of Aeronautical Ground Lighting (AGL) systems to meet the UK Civil Aviation Authority requirements. The electrical contracting company was established in 1887 with the Airfield Services department introduced in 1999.

Most recently the firm has been involved in the Beluga Building project in Broughton. Derek Calloway from Edward Dewhurst Limited commented:

“We will be supplying and installing the taxiway centreline, edge, stopbar and lead-on lighting to the new Echo Taxiway. This will provide route guidance and safety of the Beluga Aircraft between the new Line Station and the runway. The works also included the diversion of existing AGL services to allow construction of the new Echo taxiway.”

The firm is extremely pleased to have worked on this project; Derek added:

“This project follows previous contract works as main contractor to Airbus last year on the installation of new runway centreline and touchdown zone lighting. It is important for Edward Dewhurst to remain the first choice of Airbus UK for any Aeronautical Ground Lighting at Hawarden Airfield. It is also important to build relationships with John Sisk Ltd as this is the first project the two companies have worked on together.”

Champion Door

 Champion Doors, a family owned company located in Finland, specialise in the construction of fabric fold-up hangar doors for aircraft hangar installations and large doorways. The company was formed in 1974 and since its inception has provided an array of clients with quality products. The company has branch offices located in Paris and Dubai.

Champion Door were chosen by Airbus Hamburg to design, manufacture and install large fabric fold-up doors for all of their European plants; in UK, France, Germany and Spain.

The doors constructed by the firm will be fitted to the new building and protect the Beluga Cargo Aircraft from strong winds. Thanks to these unique doors, the logistics process regarding Beluga loading will be improved.

This protection will help the Beluga freighters increase their flight hour totals to support Airbus production. Gilles Flament from Champion Door commented:

“We can manufacture customised, large doors which are designed to withstand fluctuations in moisture and temperature levels and withstand violent winds. As a result Airbus decided the new facilities should be equipped with our doors.

“Regarding Airbus Beluga Line Station in Broughton we will install four customised, large fabric doors.”

Gilles added:

Before this project Champion Door had already delivered more than 100 large fabric fold-up doors to all Airbus production sites around Europe. Thanks to this new global European project Champion has had the opportunity to get involved with Airbus Broughton. These links with a key customer helps us to develop business activities within the UK.”

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