As we announced just two months ago, Airbus will indeed launch a successor to the present Beluga that has supplied the Airbus assembly lines with aircraft parts since 1994. The five existing cargo aircraft will not be sufficient to deal with the increased production of the various manufacturer’s programmes, notably that of the A350.
Airbus, initially, will therefore construct five "Beluga Neo’s". This new aircraft will be based on the A330, of which more than 1,100 units have been built over the last twenty years, but whose future is assured thanks to its future remotorized version. Based on this programme, Airbus thus ensures the possibility of manufacturing as many "Beluga Neo’s' as they require, especially after 2025, when the current Beluga will definitely be taken out of service.
While it is still too early to know what the future cargo ‘plane will look like, many changes will have to be made to the structure of the A330. The cockpit will have to be lowered, and an overhead fuselage loading access will be required to facilitate its loading and unloading.
Relative to the current Beluga, the "Beluga Neo" will have its fuselage diameter increased by one metre (over 3 feet), and the length of its hold by six metres (almost 20 feet), giving it an increased payload of 12%. Its engine configuration will more than likely remain identical to that of the current A330, and should enter service in 2019.