The Airbus A300 is a short to medium range, wide-body family of aircraft
manufactured by Airbus between 1972 and the present.
The A300 was the first twin-engined widebody airliner in the world. It inspired
Boeing twins such as Boeing 767 and 777 and paved the way for ETOPS flights.
Airbus partners employed the latest technology, some derived from the Concorde.
On entry into service in 1974, the A300 was very advanced and influenced
later subsonic airliner designs. The technological highlights include:
-Advanced wings by De Havilland (later BAE Systems) with:
*supercritical airfoil section for excellent economic performance
*advanced, aerodynamically efficient flight controls
*advanced 222-inch diameter circular fuselage section for 8-abreast
passenger seating and wide enough for 2 LD3 cargo containers
side-by-side giving it bigger belly cargo cross-section than
a Boeing 747. The circular fuselage crossection was later used in
the Boeing 777.
-Structures made from metal billets, reducing weight
-High degree of automation requiring the flight engineer's intervention
only in emergencies
-The first airliner to be fitted with wind shear protection
-Advanced autopilots capable of flying the aircraft from climb-out
-Fully electronically controlled brake-by-wire braking system
Later A300s incorporated other advanced features such as
-2 man crew by automating the flight engineer's functions, an industry
first (a request made by Garuda Indonesia, an idea proposed by
B. J. Habibie, who at that time was Indonesia's Minister
of Research and Technology)
-Glass cockpit flight instruments
-Extensive use of composites
-Center-of-gravity control by shifting fuel between tanks
-The first airliner to use winglets for better aerodynamics
All of these made the A300 a perfect substitute for the widebody tri-jets
such as McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 for short to medium routes.
On the early versions, Airbus even used the same engines and similar major
systems as the DC-10. Asian airlines bought the concept and used the
early A300s as a complement to the widebody tri-jets on such routes.
After the launch, sales of the A300 were weak for some years with most orders
going to airlines that had an obligation to order the locally made
product - notably Air France and Lufthansa. At one stage, Airbus had
16 "whitetail" A300s - completed but unsold aircraft - sitting on the tarmac.
In 1977 giant US carrier Eastern Airlines leased four A300s as an in-service
trial and then ordered 23 of the type. From then on the A300 family sold well,
eventually reaching the current total of 843 on order or delivered.
Also, Olympic Airlines operated A300-B4 and A300-605R jets for several years.
Now (as of February 2005) it operates a single A300-605R (SX-BEM 'Creta').
It has found favour, in particular, with Asian airlines. It was snapped up by
Japan Air System, Thai Airlines International, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia
Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, China Airlines, PIA, Indian Airlines,
Trans Australia Airlines, and many others. As Asia is not restricted by the
FAA 60-minutes ruling for twin-engine airliners, Asian airlines used A300s for
routes across the Bay of Bengal and South China Sea. The Australians used them
for domestic transcontinental routes. By 1981, Airbus was growing rapidly with
over 300 aircraft sold and options for 200 more planes for over forty airlines.
This fact was not lost on Boeing which responded with the Boeing 767.
The A300 provided Airbus the experience of manufacturing and selling airliners
competitively. The basic fuselage of the A300 was later streched into the
A330 and A340, shrunk for A310s, and modified into many derivatives such as
the Airbus Beluga.
Currently, the A300 is reaching the end of its market life and is now mainly
sold as a dedicated freighter. The current version is the A300-600R and is
rated for 180-min ETOPS.
The A300 has enjoyed renewed interest in the secondhand market for conversion
A300B1 Only two were built: the first prototype and a second aircraft which was
later sold for airline service. It has accommodation for 259 passengers with a
maximum weight of 132,000 kg and two General Electric CF6-50A engines
of 220 kN thrust.
A300B2 The first production version. Powered by CF6 or Pratt & Whitney JT9D
engines of between 227 and 236kn thrust, it entered service with Air France
in May 1974.
A300B4 The major production version of the early years was similar to
the B2 but with weight increased to 157 tonnes. Production of the B2
and B4 totalled 248.
A300FFCC The first 2 man crew airliner first saw service with Garuda and Varig.
A300B10 '(A310)' Introduced a shorter fuselage, a new, higher aspect ratio wing,
smaller tail, and two man crew operation. It is available in standard -200 and
extended range -300 with 9,600km range in both passenger and cargo versions.
It is also available as a military tanker/transport and is serving the Luftwaffe.
Sales to date total 260.
A300-600 This current version is the same length as the B2 and B4 but has
increased space because it uses the A310 rear fuselage and tail. It has higher
power CF6-80 or Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines and entered service in 1988.
It is available in both passenger and freight versions, and forms the basis of
the Airbus Beluga. 330 A300-600s have been sold.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Airbus A300".