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Upon first sight, to the uneducated eye, the Airbus Beluga looks incredibly 'un-aerodynamic'. Is the Beluga just as safe as other Airbus models?

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    $\begingroup$ It might be even safer. No hull loss. $\endgroup$ – vasin1987 Feb 27 '18 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see how you can get a reduction on allowable (technical) risk from the certification authorities for a large aircraft. And @vasin1987 has said that there have been no hull losses. $\endgroup$ – jjack Feb 27 '18 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ @jjack The Beluga is certified as a restricted category aircraft. As EASA puts it, "This is intended for aircraft that cannot comply with all applicable airworthiness requirements because they are specifically designed for a special purpose..." $\endgroup$ – user71659 Feb 27 '18 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ What are you worried about happening? $\endgroup$ – zeta-band Feb 28 '18 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ A Beluga apparently had a cockpit wiring fire yesterday... The Beluga TCDS does note restricted conditions about stalls, operational speeds, gust tolerance, and a stick pusher (not present on the base model), so the question whether there are aerodynamic compromises is probably yes. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Feb 28 '18 at 0:32
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There's a history of oversize airplanes for transport. One of the earliest was the Pregnant Guppy and its successor the Super Guppy

enter image description here By NASA/Tom Tschida - http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/multimedia/imagegallery/Guppy/EC00-0212-2.html (image link), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32895741

Boeing operates its own variant, the Dreamlifter

enter image description here By scott wright (originally posted to Flickr as n780ba) [CC BY 2.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 )], via Wikimedia Commons

To my knowledge, none of these (including the Beluga) have had any safety incidents (although the Dreamlifter did once land at the wrong airport). I'm not sure if there's any conclusions on safety to draw from, however, as there aren't a lot of these around, as they primarily transport large materials (like aircraft parts).

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    $\begingroup$ There's definitely been Beluga safety incidents. I do remember something falling off it 10+ years ago. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Feb 27 '18 at 20:43
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The Beluga, or other bulk-freight carriers, such as the Guppy variants or the Dreamlifter, are as aerodynamic as they can be, regarding the contrains on cargo volume. So, they are unusually shaped/large, yet they are not un-aerodynamic.

As for the safety record, there is only a small number of Belugas. So, the safety statistics is not comparable to a large-number type, e.g. A300. Furthermore, the per-plane, per-year mileage is much larger for the common passenger carriers that for the bulk-cargo carriers. So, a single A300 clocks much more miles in a year than a Beluga.

To conclude, statistics becomes more and more significant the larger the involved sample is. Statisticians might argue, whether a sample of 5 (hulls, in the case of the Belugas) is a sample at all (strictly statistically/mathematically speaking).

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