Airbus A340

Airbus A340

infobox Aircraft
subtemplate= Infobox Airbus airliners
name = Airbus A340
type = Airliner
manufacturer = Airbus

caption = A Cathay Pacific A340-600 landing at London Heathrow Airport
first flight = 25 October 1991
introduced = March 1993 (delivery began in January 1993)
status= Active Service
produced =
primary user = Lufthansa
more users = Iberia Airlines Virgin Atlantic Airways
South African Airways
number built = 354 as of 31st July 2008 [cite web | url = | title = Airbus orders & deliveries | publisher = Airbus S.A.S ]
unit cost= A340-200: $87,000,000 (1989)
A340-300: $211.8 to $219.2m (2008)cite web | url = | title = Airbus Aircraft Range of 2008 List Prices | publisher = Airbus S.A.S retrieved July 27, 2008]
A340-500: $233.0 to $241.1m (2008)
A340-600: $245.0 to $253.7m (2008)
developed from= Airbus A330
variants with their own articles=

The Airbus A340 is a long-range four-engined widebody commercial passenger airliner manufactured by Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. It seats between 261 and 380 passengers, and has a range between 6,700 and 9,000 NM. It is similar in design to the twin-engined A330. Initial A340 versions share the fuselage and wing of the A330 while later models are longer and have larger wings. [ [ Aircraft Family - A330-200 Specifications ] ]


The first published studies for the A340 were as the TA11 in 1981, as shown in the November issue of "Air International Magazine" (coinciding with the display of the A300 at that year's Farnborough Airshow). Concept drawings of the A320 (SA 9) and A330 (TA9 [ [ Aviation Past- Airbus A330 ] ] [ [ Steve's Airshow World - Aircraft Factfile and Recognition Guide - Airbus A330 ] ] [ [ FLUG REVUE February 2000: The Airbus story ] ] [ [ The Airbus A330 Aircraft Information ] ] ) were also published, along with estimated performance figures by Airbus Industrie.

The A340 was launched in June 1987 as a long-range complement to the short-range A320 and the medium-range A300. At the time, Airbus's twinjets were at a disadvantage against aircraft such as the Boeing 747 because of the ETOPS problem as defined by the then-current regulations: two-engined aircraft had to stay within 60 minutes' flying distance of a suitable diversion airport, which prevented them from competing on long over water routes. Furthermore, the existing ETOPS immune wide-bodies in the 250-300 seat range, the trijet DC-10 and L-1011, were aging, as they had been in service since the early 1970s.

The A340 was designed in parallel with the twin-engined A330: both aircraft share the same wing and similar fuselage structure, and borrow heavily from the advanced avionics and composite structure technology developed for the A320.

Both the A330 and A340 are assembled on the same final assembly line at Toulouse-Blagnac, France. The four-engined A340 is able to fly long over-water routes. Because of its ETOPS immunity, Virgin Atlantic Airways used the motto "4 Engines 4 Long Haul" on its A340 fleet.

The A340 was originally intended to use the new superfan engines of International Aero Engines, but they decided to stop the engine's development. The engine nacelles of the superfan engine consisted of provisions to allow a large fan near the rear of the engine. As a result of the superfan cancellation by IAE, the CFM International CFM56-5C4 was used as the sole engine choice instead of being an alternate choice as originally envisioned. The longer-range versions, the A340-500 and -600, are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 500 engines.

When the A340 first flew in 1991, engineers noticed that the wings were not strong enough to carry the outboard engines at cruising speed without warping and fluttering. To alleviate this, an underwing bulge called a plastron was developed to correct airflow problems around the engine pylons and to add stiffness. The modified A340 began commercial service in 1993 with Lufthansa and Air France.fix|link=Wikipedia:Contents|text=citation needed

The A340 incorporates high-technology features such as fully digital fly-by-wire flight control system. It also uses joysticks instead of yokes, with one joystick to the left of the pilot and one to the right of the co-pilot. The A340's flight deck is highly similar to the A320's, and employs a common pilot rating with the A330. This enables A330/A340 flight crews to fly A320s and vice-versa with minimal extra training. This saves costs for airlines that operate both aircraft families. The cockpit also features CRT-based glass cockpit displays on the A340-200 and A340-300 and LCD-based on -500 and -600. Some composite primary structures are also used.

An A340 was used as first commercial jet that enables the use of mobile phones during flight. In March 2008 Emirates Airlines introduced a system allowing passengers to make outgoing calls with their handset. Incoming calls are not possible and the system is not available at night or during landing and take-off. [BCC article on [ Mobile call during flight] dated 20 March 2008]

Effects of competition and fuel prices

With the introduction of higher gross weight Boeing 777s such as the 777-200ER and specifically 777-300ER, sales of the A340 began to decline. Over the last few years the 777 has outsold the A340 by a wide margin. Although the larger GE90 engines on the 777-300ER burn considerably more fuel than the Trent 500s, using only two of them compared to four Trents has meant a typical operating cost advantage of around 8-10%.Fact|date=August 2008

In January 2006, Airbus announced plans to develop the A340E (Enhanced). Airbus promoted that the A340E would be more fuel-efficient than earlier A340s and close the 8-10% disparity (range of the 18,000 km (9,720 NM) [ A340E-500HGW - with Trent 1500 engines ] [ *] ) and allow the model to compete more effectively with the Boeing 777-200LR. This would allow Qantas to schedule direct Sydney to London-Heathrow flights [ *] .

Airbus has predicted that it will probably produce 127 A340 units through 2016, after which production will cease. [Aviation Week & Space Technology, October 29, 2007, p. 63]

In mid-2008, with jet fuel prices double what they were the year before, the A340's fuel consumption has led airlines to curtail very long flights, of greater than 15 hours. Thai Airways International is cancelling its 17-hour non-stop flights from Bangkok to New York City and is planning to sell the A340s used on the route. While short flights stress aircraft more than long flights, and result in more frequent fuel-thirsty take-offs and landings, ultra-long flights require an airline to fill an aircraft's fuel tanks to the maximum; this means that, en route, the plane is burning a lot of fuel just to carry fuel, a "flying tanker with a few people on board," Air France-KLM SA's chief executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told the "Wall Street Journal". While Thai Airways has consistently filled 80% of the seats on its NYC-Bangkok flights, it estimates that, at 2008 fuel prices, it would need an impossible 120% of seats filled just to break even. [Airlines curb Long Flights to Save on Fuel, Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2008, pp.B1-B2] Other airlines are re-examining long-haul flights as well. In August, 2008, Cathay Pacific told the Wall Street Journal that rising fuel prices are hurting its trans-Pacific long haul routes disproportionately; it will cut the number of such flights it offers, and redeploy its aircraft to shorter routes, such between Hong Kong and Australia. "We will...reshaping (our network) where necessary to ensure we fly aircraft to where we can cover our costs and also make some money," Cathay Pacific CEO Tony Tyler told the newspaper. [Cathay Pacific to Cut Flights to Los Angeles, Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2008, p.D3]


There are four variants of the A340 and launched on two separate occasions. The A340-200 and A340-300 were launched in 1987 with introduction into service in March 1993. The A340-500 and A340-600 were launched in 1997 with introduction into service in 2002.


One of two initial versions of the A340, the A340-200, with 261 passengers in a three-class cabin layout has a range of 7,450 nautical miles (13,800 km). This is the shortest version of the type and the only version with wingspan measuring greater than the length of the plane. It is powered by four CFMI CFM56-5C4 engines. The plane's range was one of the longest of the time and it was intended to open long and thin routes, especially over water.

One version of this type was ordered by the Sultan of Brunei requesting for a non-stop range of 8,000 nautical miles (14820 km). This A340-8000 had an increased fuel capacity, a MTOW of 275 tonnes similar to the A340-300, and minor reinforcements to the undercarriage. Upon completion its final range was specified at 8,100 nautical miles (15,000 km). It is powered by the 34,000 lbf (151 kN) thrust CFMI CFM56-5C4s similar to the -300E.

Other A340-200s were later given performance improvement packages (PIPs) which helped them achieve similar gains in capability as to the A340-8000. Those aircraft are labeled A340-213X. The range for this version is 8,000 NM (14,820 km).

Due to its large wingspan, four engines, low capacity, and improvements to the A340-300, the -200 proved heavy and unpopular with mainstream airlines. Only 28 A340-200s were produced with several now in VIP service. South African Airways is the largest operator with 6 flying mostly on Cape Town routes. Other current operators include Aerolineas Argentinas (4), Royal Jordanian (4), Egypt Air (3) and Conviasa (1).

Some A340-200 are used for VIP or military use. Examples of these are Royal Brunei, Qatar Airways, Arab Republic of Egypt Government, Saudi Arabia Air Force, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the French Air Force. Other historical operators include Cathay Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and Air Bourbon, among others. This version is now out of production.


The A340-300 flies 295 passengers in a typical three-class cabin layout over 6,700 nautical miles (12,400 km). This is the initial version, having flown on 25 October 1991, and entered service with Lufthansa and Air France in March 1993. It is powered by four CFMI CFM56-5C engines, similar to the -200. Its two closest competitors are the Boeing 777-200ER and, formerly, the McDonnell-Douglas MD-11, which is no longer in production.

The A340-313X is a heavyweight version of the A340, and was first delivered to Singapore Airlines in April 1996, though Singapore Airlines no longer operates this model.

The A340-313E is the latest version of this type and was first delivered to Swiss International Air Lines in 2003. It has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 276.5 tonnes with typical range with 295 passengers of between 7,200 and 7,400 nautical miles (13,300 km and 13,700 km). It is powered by the more powerful 34,000 lbf (151 kN) thrust CFMI CFM56-5C4s. The largest operator of this type is Lufthansa with 30.

The A340-300 is no longer in production with the last of 245 -300s delivered to a private Russian customer in September 2008, with the final airline delivery to Finnair in July 2008.


The A340-500 was introduced as the world's longest-range commercial airliner. It made its first flight on 11 February 2002, and was certified on 3 December 2002 with early deliveries to Emirates Airline. While the KC-10 Extender is the longest-ranged production aircraft, the A340-500 was the world's longest-range commercial airliner until the introduction of the Boeing 777-200LR in February 2006. The A340-500 can fly 313 passengers in a three-class cabin layout over 8,650 nautical miles (16,020 km), e.g. it is capable of traveling non-stop from London to Perth, Australia, though a return flight requires a fuel stop due to headwinds [cite news|url=|date=2004-06-29|accessdate=2006-08-06|title=Record Longest Flight Flies in the Face of Its Critics|publisher=Guardian] . Singapore Airlines, for example, used this model, in a 2-class, 181-passenger layout, for its Newark-Singapore nonstop route, a 17-hour, 45-minute "westbound" (really northbound to 70NM abeam the North Pole; then south from there across Russia, Mongolia and China); 18-hour, 30-minute eastbound, 15,345 km (8,285 NM) journey that is the longest scheduled non-stop commercial flight in the world [cite news|url=|title=Singapore Air makes longest flight|publisher=CNN] . By late June, 2008, Singapore Airlines has completed conversion of its 5 A340-500's to an all-Business Class configuration, with 100 seats, due to high-end passenger demand. Thai Airways International flies this model on non-stop flights from Bangkok to Los Angeles, but terminated the Bangkok to New York service on July 1, 2008, due to increased fuel costs [cite news|url=|title=THAI Announces Board Meeting Results|publisher=Thai Airways International] . Etihad Airways is a recent new customer. In the first transfer of A340-500's from one airline to another, TAM Brazilian Airlines has acquired two former Air Canada airplanes for use on its São Paulo-Frankfurt route, after Air Canada replaced them with Boeing 777LR's on its Toronto-Hong Kong route. A total of 33 A340-500's have been ordered by 6 airlines, with 26 delivered as of August, 2007.

Compared with the A340-300, the -500 features a 4.3 m fuselage stretch, an enlarged wing area, massive increase in fuel capacity (around 50% over -300), slightly higher cruising speed, larger horizontal stabilizer and smaller vertical tailplane. The A340-500/-600 has taxi cameras to help the pilots during ground maneuvers. The A340-500 is powered by four 53,000 lbf (236 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 553 turbofans.

The A340-500HGW ("H"igh "G"ross "W"eight) version has a range of 9,000 NM (16,700 km) and an MTOW of 380 tonnes and first flew on the 13th October 2006. It uses the strengthened structure and enlarged fuel capacity of the A340-600HGW. The certification aircraft became the first delivery, to Thai Airways International, on 11th April 2007 [ [ Jetphotos Airbus A340-541HGW HS-TLD]] . Kingfisher Airlines plan to use this model to operate nonstop flights from India to the United States. [ Kingfisher Purchases Five Airbus A340-500] ""] [ [ Kingfisher purchases five A340-500]] The A340-500HGW is powered by four 56,000 lbf (249 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 556 turbofans.

The largest operator of this type is Emirates Airline, with 10 aircraft in service.

The direct Boeing equivalent is the 777-200LR, which entered service in February 2006, exceeding the A340-500 as the world's longest-range commercial airliner.


Designed as an early generation 747 replacement, the A340-600 flies 380 passengers in a three-class cabin layout (419 in 2 class) over 7,500 nautical miles (13,900 km). It provides similar passenger capacity to a 747 but with 25% more cargo volume, and at lower trip and seat costs. First flight of the A340-600 was made on 23 April 2001. Virgin Atlantic began commercial services in August 2002.

The A340-600 is more than 10 m longer than a basic -300, making it the longest airliner currently in production; more than four metres longer than the Boeing 747-400. It is powered by four 56,000 lbf (249 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 556 turbofans. It also has an additional four-wheel undercarriage on the fuselage center-line to cope with the increased MTOW. Airbus has made provisions for freeing additional upper deck main cabin space, by providing optional arrangements for additional facilities such as crew rest areas, galleys, and lavatories upon the "stretched" A340 aircraft's lower decks.

In April 2007, The Times reported that Airbus had advised carriers to reduce cargo in the forward section by five tonnes in order to compensate for overweight first and business class sections. The additional weight causes the aircraft's center of gravity to move forward thus reducing cruise efficiency. Airlines affected by the advisory are considering demanding compensation from Airbus. [cite web|url=|date=2007-04-07|accessdate=2007-04-07|title=Carriers ponder compensation claims against Airbus for overweight aircraft]

The A340-600HGW ("H"igh "G"ross "W"eight) version first flew on 18 November 2005 [cite web|url=|date=2005-11-18|accessdate=2006-08-06|title=New A340-600 takes to the skies] and was certified on 14 April, 2006. [cite web|url=|title=Newly certified A340-600 brings 18% higher productivity|date=2006-04-14|accessdate=2006-08-06] It has an MTOW of 380 tonnes and a range of up to 7,900 NM (14,600 km), made possible by strengthened structure, increased fuel, more powerful engines and new manufacturing techniques like laser beam welding. The A340-600HGW is powered by four 60,000 lbf (267 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 560 turbofans.

Emirates Airline became the launch customer for the -600HGW when it ordered 18 at the 2003 Paris Air Show [cite web|url=|accessdate=2006-08-06|title=Emirates orders 41 additional Airbus aircraft|date=2003-06-16] ; but postponed their order indefinitely and later cancelled. Rival Qatar Airways, which placed its order at the same airshow, took delivery of the first aircraft on 11 September 2006. [cite web|url=,2773,0,0,1,0&tab=5 | title=Qatar Airways First Airbus A340-600 Arrives In Doha] It has since let its purchase options expire. [cite web|url= | title=First Boeing jet of many touches down in Qatar]



By the end of August 2008 a total of 386 A340s had been ordered (246 A340-200/300, 38 A340-500 and 102 A340-600) and 354 delivered (241 A340-200/300, 27 A340-500 and 81 A340-600).cite news|title=Airbus - Orders and Deliveries|publisher=Airbus S.A.S.|date=August 31, 2008|url=]

ee also

* Airbus A330
similar aircraft=
* Boeing 747
* Boeing 777
* McDonnell Douglas MD-11
* Ilyushin Il-96
* List of airliners
* List of civil aircraft
* List of Airbus A340 operators
see also=
* Competition between Airbus and Boeing


External links

* [ Details on Airbus aircraft]
* [ History and pictures of the Airbus A340-300]
* [ - Airbus A340-200]
* [ Airbus A340 production list]
* [ Quito crash 9th November 2007]

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