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Airbus A340

British West Indian Airways
Airbus A340-300.

The Airbus A340 is a long-range widebody commercial passenger airplane manufactured by Airbus Industrie. It is similar in design to the sister Airbus A330 but uses four engines rather than two. It has one of the longest ranges of any commercial airliner.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Models
3 Specifications
4 External links


The A340 began its conceptual life in the early 1970's as the TA11, a four-engined variant of the Airbus A300. Once the Arab oil crisis began, company officials decided to shelve the project indefinitely: it wasn't brought back to the table until the mid-1980's, when it was refined and turned into the modern A340.

Airbus's new aircraft was launched in 1987 as a long-range complement to the short-range Airbus A320 and the medium-range A300. At the time, the newest long-range widebody, the twinjet Boeing 767, was at a disadvantage to aircraft such as the 747 because of the ETOPS problem: two-engined aircraft have to stay within close range of emergency airfields in case one of their engines malfunctions. The four-engined A340 design was an attempt to make a new-generation competitor for ETOPS-immune aircraft like the Boeing 747.

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

When the A340 first flew in 1991, its engineers noticed a potentially major design flaw in the first model: the wings weren't strong enough to carry the outboard engines at cruising speed without warping and fluttering. Engineers had to develop a new device, the plastron, to fix airflow problems around the engine pylons. The fixed A340 began commercial service in 1993 with Lufthansa and Air France.


There were initially two models of A340: the A340-200 and A340-300. The 200 is shorter than the 300 and has a smaller capacity, but can fly farther than the 300, making it more popular among airlines flying ultra-long-range routes. In 1997, Airbus launched two lengthened variants of the A340, the long-range -500 and high-capacity -600 series. Both of these models entered airline service in 2002.


See also: List of aircraft

External links