The Airbus A340 is a long-range four-engine wide-body commercial passenger jet airliner. Developed and produced by Airbus Industrie,[Nb 1] a consortium of European aerospace companies, which is now fully owned by EADS, the A340 was assembled at Toulouse, France. It seats up to 375 passengers in the standard variants and 440 in the stretched −600 series. Depending on the model, it has a range of between 6,700 to 9,000 nautical miles (12,400 to 17,000 km). It is similar in design to the twin-engined A330 with which it was concurrently designed. Its distinguishing features are four high-bypass turbofan engines and three-bogie main landing gear. Airbus manufactured the A340 in four fuselage lengths. The initial variant, A340-300, which entered service in 1993, measured 59.39 metres (194.8 ft).
The shorter −200 was developed next, and the A340-600 was a 15.91 metres (52.2 ft) stretch of the −200. The −600 was developed alongside the shorter A340-500, which would become the longest-ranged commercial airliner until the arrival of the Boeing 777-200LR. The two initial models were powered by the CFM56-5C, rated at 151 kilonewtons (34,000 lbf), while Rolls-Royce held exclusive powerplant rights to the extended-ranged and heavier −500 and −600 models, through the 267-kilonewton (60,000 lbf) Rolls-Royce Trent 500. Initial A340 versions share the fuselage and wing of the A330 while the −500/-600 models are longer and have larger wings. Launch customers Lufthansa and Air France placed the A340 into service in March 1993. As of September 2011, 379 orders had been placed (not including private operators), of which 375 were delivered. The most common type were the A340-300 model, with 218 aircraft delivered. Lufthansa is the biggest operator of the A340, having acquired 59 aircraft. The A340 is used on long-haul, trans-oceanic routes due to its immunity from ETOPS; however, with reliability in engines improving, airlines are progressively phasing out the type in favour of more economical twinjets, such as the A330 and the Boeing 777. Airbus announced on 10 November 2011 that the A340 programme had been terminated due to lack of new orders.
When Airbus designed the Airbus A300 during the 1970s, it envisioned a broad family of airliners to compete against Boeing and Douglas, two established US aerospace manufacturers. From the moment of formation, Airbus had begun studies into derivatives of the Airbus A300B in support of this long-term goal. Prior to the service introduction of the first Airbus airliners, Airbus had identified nine possible variations of the A300 known as A300B1 to B9. A 10th variation, conceived in 1973, later the first to be constructed, was designated the A300B10. It was a smaller aircraft that would be developed into the long-range Airbus A310. Airbus then focused its efforts on the single-aisle market, which resulted in the Airbus A320 family, which was the first digital fly-by-wire commercial aircraft. The decision to work on the A320, instead of a four-engine aircraft proposed by the Germans, created divisions within Airbus. As the SA or "single aisle" studies (which later became the successful Airbus A320) underwent development to challenge the successful Boeing 737 and Douglas DC-9 in the single-aisle, narrow-body airliner market, Airbus turned its focus back to the wide-body aircraft market.
The A300B11, a derivative of the A310, was designed upon the availability of "ten ton" engines. It would seat between 180 to 200 passengers, and have a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km). It was deemed the replacement for the less-efficient Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s still in service.
The A300B11 was joined by another design, the A300B9, which was a larger derivative of the A300. The B9 was developed by Airbus from the early 1970s at a slow pace until the early 1980s. It was essentially a stretched A300 with the same wing, coupled with the most powerful turbofan engine at the time. It was targeted at the growing demand for high-capacity, medium-range, transcontinental trunk routes. The B9 would offer the same range and payload as the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, but would use between 25% to 38% less fuel. The B9 was therefore considered the replacement for the DC-10 and the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar. To differentiate the programme from the SA studies, the B9 and B11 were redesignated the TA9 and TA11 (TA standing for "twin aisle"), respectively. In an effort to save development costs, it was decided that the two would share the same wing and airframe; the projected savings were estimated at US$500 million (about £490 million or €495 million). The adoption of a common wing structure also had one technical advantage: the TA11's outboard engines could counteract the weight of the longer-range model by providing bending relief. Another factor was the split preference of those within Airbus and, more importantly, prospective airliner customers. Airbus vice president for strategic planning, Adam Brown, recalled,
North American operators were clearly in favour of a twin[jet], while Asians wanted a quad[jet]. In Europe, opinion was split between the two. The majority of potential customers were in favour of a quad despite the fact, in certain conditions, it is more costly to operate than a twin. They liked that it could be ferried with one engine out, and could fly 'anywhere'— ETOPS (extend-range twin-engine operations) hadn't begun then.
The first specifications of the TA9 and TA11 were released in 1982. While the TA9 had a range of 3,300 nautical miles (6,100 km), the TA11 range was up to 6,830 nautical miles (12,650 km). At the same time, Airbus also sketched the TA12, a twin-engine derivative of the TA11, which was optimised for flights of a 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km) lesser range.
By the time of the Paris Air Show in June 1985, more refinements had been made to the TA9 and TA11, including the adoption of the A320 flight deck, fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system and side-stick control. The adoption of a common cockpit design across the new Airbus series allowed operators to make significant cost savings; flight crews would be able to transition from one to another after one week of training. The TA11 and TA12 would use the front and rear fuselage sections of the A310. Components across the aircraft were modular, and interchangeable with other Airbus aircraft where possible to reduce production, maintenance and operating costs.
Airbus briefly considered a variable camber wing; the concept was that the wing could change its profile to produce the optimum shape for a given phase of flight. Studies were carried out by British Aerospace (BAe) at Hatfield and Bristol. Airbus estimated this would yield a 2% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency. However, the plan was later abandoned on grounds of cost and difficulty of development.
Airbus briefly entered discussions with McDonnell Douglas about teaming up to produce the planned AM 300. This aeroplane would have combined the wing of the A330 with the fuselage of the McDonnell Douglas MD-11. However, talks terminated as McDonnell insisted on the continuation of its trijet heritage. Eventually, McDonnell Douglas would merge with Boeing, contributed by the commercial failure of its MD-11 design, which competed directly with the A340.
From the start, it was intended that the A340 would be powered by four CFM56-5 turbofan engines, capable of 25,000 pounds-force (110 kN). Airbus also considered a trijet due to the limited power of engines available at the time, namely the Rolls-Royce RB211-535 and Pratt & Whitney JT10D-232.
On 27 January 1986, the Airbus Industrie Supervisory Board held a meeting in Munich, West Germany, after which board-chairman Franz Josef Strauß released a statement, "Airbus Industrie is now in a position to finalise the detailed technical definition of the TA9, which is now officially designated the A330, and the TA11, now called the A340, with potential launch customer airlines, and to discuss with them the terms and conditions for launch commitments". The designations were originally reversed because the airlines believed it illogical for a two-engine jet airliner to have a "4" in its name, whilst a quad-jet would not.
On 12 May, Airbus sent new sale proposals to five prospective airlines including Lufthansa and Swissair.
Production and testing
In preparations for production of the A330/A340, Airbus's partners invested heavily in new facilities. Filton was the site of BAe's £7 million investment in a three-storey technical centre with an extra 15,000 square metres (160,000 sq ft) of floor area. BAe also spent £5 million expanding the Chester wing production plant by 14,000 m2 (150,000 sq ft) to accommodate a new production line. However, France saw the biggest changes with Aérospatiale starting construction of a new Fr.2.5 billion ($411 million) assembly plant, adjacent to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, in Colomiers. By November 1988, the first 21 m (69 ft) pillars were erected for the new Clément Ader assembly hall. The assembly process, meanwhile, would feature increased automation with holes for the wing-fuselage mating process drilled by eight robots. The use of automation for this particular process saved Airbus 20% on labour costs and 5% on time.
British Aerospace accepted £450 million funding from the UK government, although it was well short of the £750 million originally requested. Funds from the French and German governments followed thereafter. Airbus also issued subcontracts to companies in Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Greece, Italy, India, Japan, South Korea, Portugal, the United States of America, and the former Yugoslavia. The A330 and A340 programmes were jointly launched on 5 June 1987, just prior to the Paris Air Show. The order book then stood at 130 aircraft from 10 customers, apart from the above-mentioned Lufthansa and International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). Eighty-nine of the total orders were A340 models. Over at McDonnell Douglas, ongoing tests of the MD-11 revealed a significant shortfall in the aircraft's performance. An important prospective carrier, Singapore Airlines (SIA), required a fully laden aircraft that could fly from Singapore to Paris, against strong headwinds during mid-winter in the northern hemisphere. The MD-11, according to test results, would experience fuel starvation over the Balkans. Due to the less-than-expected performance figures, SIA cancelled its 20-aircraft MD-11 order on 2 August 1991, and ordered 20 A340-300s instead.
The first flight of the A340 occurred on 21 October 1991, marking the start of a 2,000-hour test flight programme involving six aircraft. From the start, 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. European JAA certification was obtained on 22 December 1992; FAA followed on 27 May 1993.
Entry into service and demonstration
Airbus delivered the first A340, a −200, to Lufthansa on 2 February 1993. The 228-seat A340-200, named, Nürnberg, entered service on 15 March. The A340s were intended to replace aging DC-10s on the airline's Frankfurt–New York services. Meanwhile, Air France took its first A340-300 on 26 February, the first of nine it planned to operate by the end of the year. The A340 replaced the Boeing 747s on Paris–Washington D.C., flying four times weekly. Coincidentally, the first Air France A340 was the 1000th Airbus to leave the Toulouse facility since the consortium's beginning.
During the Paris Air Show, on 16 June 1993, an A340-200, named The World Ranger took off for a round-the-world demonstration and publicity-stunt flight. The aircraft, carrying 22 persons, had been modified for the flight, including the addition of five center tanks. Taking off at 11:58 local time, The World Ranger made only one stop en route in Auckland, arriving back in Paris 48 hours and 22 minutes later, at 12:20. The flight broke six world records at the time. Among the six was the longest non-stop flight by an airliner, when the aircraft flew 19,277 kilometres (10,409 nmi) from Paris, arriving in Auckland in record time, keeping the record until 2005, when a Boeing 777-200LR flew from Hong Kong eastward toward London, resulting in 11,664 nautical miles (21,602 km) flown.
During the 1990s, when airlines were looking for replacement aircraft for their 1970-era Boeing 747-100s and −200s, Airbus investigated a stretched airframe in the form of the A340-400X. This proved unpopular, as the CFM56 engines were at the limits of their growth capability and the range would have decreased to around 10,000 km (5,400 nmi). When this plan was discarded, a larger wing and engine combination was decided upon. Initially, Pratt & Whitney proposed an engine, but contract issues led Airbus to proceed with the Rolls Royce Trents in 1997. Airbus announced in April 1996 that it would offer a stretched variant, the A340-600.
Airbus confirmed in January 2006 that it had studied developing an A340-600E (Enhanced). Airbus projected that it would be more fuel-efficient than earlier A340s and close the 8–9% disparity with the Boeing 777 by using a new Trent 1500 engines as well as technology from the A350 programme. At that time Airbus predicted that it would probably produce 127 A340 units through 2016, at which time production was projected to end.
During the early 21st Century, sales for the A340 began to slow. On 10 November 2011, Airbus announced the end of the A340 program. At that time it indicated that all firm orders had been delivered.
The A340-200 entered service in 1993 with launch customer Lufthansa, followed shortly thereafter by the −300 of Air France and the A330. Lufthansa's first A340, dubbed Nürnberg (D-AIBA), began revenue service on 15 March 1993. Air Lanka (now known as Sri Lankan Airlines) became the Asian launch customer of the Airbus A340 when the airline's first Airbus A340-300 registered (4R-ADA) was delivered in September 1994. With the introduction of higher gross weight Boeing 777s, such as the −200ER and specifically −300ER, sales of the A340 began to decline. Over the last few years[when?] 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 8–9%.
In mid-2008, jet fuel prices doubled compared to the year before; consequently, the A340's fuel consumption led airlines to reduce flight stages exceeding 15 hours. Thai Airways International cancelled its 17-hour, nonstop Bangkok–New York/JFK route on 1 July 2008, and placed its four A340-500s for sale. While short flights stress aircraft more than long flights and result in more frequent fuel-thirsty take-offs and landings, ultra-long flights require completely full fuel tanks. Thus en route, the plane is burning extra 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 New York City–Bangkok flights, it estimates that, at 2008 fuel prices, it would need an impossible 120% of seats filled just to break even. Other airlines are re-examining long-haul flights. In August 2008 Cathay Pacific stated that rising fuel prices were hurting its trans-Pacific long-haul routes disproportionately, and that it would cut the number of such flights and redeploy its aircraft to shorter routes such as between Hong Kong and Australia. "We will...reshap[e] our network where necessary to ensure we fly aircraft to where we can cover our costs and also make some money."
There are four variants of the A340. The A340-200 and A340-300 were launched in 1987 with introduction into service in March 1993 for the −200. The A340-500 and A340-600 were launched in 1997 with introduction into service in 2002. All variants were available in a corporate version from Airbus Executive and Private Aviation
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), or with 240 passengers also in a three-class cabin layout has a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km).This is the shortest version of the family and the only version with wingspan measuring greater than the length of the fuselage. It is powered by four CFMI CFM56-5C4 engines and uses the Honeywell 331–350[A] APU. The plane was intended to open long and thin routes, especially over water. The closest Boeing competitor for this aircraft is the Boeing 767-400ER.
One version of this type (referred to by Airbus as the A340-8000) was ordered by the Sultan of Brunei requesting a non-stop range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km). This A340-8000 had an increased fuel capacity, an MTOW of 275 tonnes (610,000 lb), 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 pounds-force (150 kN) thrust CFM56-5C4s similar to the −300E. Only one A340-8000 was produced by Airbus – A340-213X (msn 204). It was delivered to Brunei-based HM the Sultan's Flight in November 1998, but never entered service and was parked unfitted at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg. The aircraft was later acquired in by Saudi Arabian VIP in February 2007 as it updated its widebody fleet, according to Flight's ACAS database. Besides the −8000, some A340-200s are used for VIP or military use. Examples of these users are Royal Brunei Airlines, Qatar Amiri Flight, 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.
Following the specially designed −8000, other A340-200s were later given performance improvement packages (PIPs) that 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 nautical miles (15,000 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. Aerolíneas Argentinas and Royal Jordanian are the largest operators with four aircraft each. Other current operators include Egypt Air (3), South African Airways (2) and Conviasa (1).
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 and uses the Honeywell 331–350[A] APU, similar to the −200. Its closest competitor is the Boeing 777-200ER. The A340-300 will be superseded by the A350-900.
The A340-300E, often mislabelled as A340-300X, has an increased MTOW of up to 275 tonnes (610,000 lb) and is powered by the more powerful 34,000 lbf (150 kN) thrust CFMI CFM56-5C4 engines. Typical range with 295 passengers is between 7,200 to 7,400 nautical miles (13,300 to 13,700 km). The largest operator of this type is Lufthansa with 30 aircraft. It was first delivered to Singapore Airlines in April 1996, though Singapore Airlines no longer operates this model. Two A340-300 were acquired by the Flugbereitschaft of the German Air Force to serve as VIP transports for the leaders of the German government and the German President. Service entry will be 2011.
The A340-300 Enhanced is the latest version of this type and was first delivered to South African Airways in 2003, with Air Mauritius implementing the A340-300 Enhanced as part of their fleet in 2006. It received newer CFM56-5C4/P engines and improved avionics and fly-by-wire systems developed for the A340-500 and −600.
The A340-500 was introduced as the world's longest-range commercial airliner. It first flew on 11 February 2002, and was certified on 3 December 2002 with early deliveries to Emirates, allowing the Middle Eastern carrier to launch nonstop service from Dubai to New York -- its first route in the Americas. The A340-500 can fly 313 passengers in a three-class cabin layout over 8,650 nautical miles (16,020 km). It remained the world's longest-range commercial airliner until the introduction of its direct equivalent, Boeing 777-200LR, in February 2006. However, the Boeing 777-200LR is subject to the ETOPS restrictions due to it having two engines.
Due to its range, the −500 is capable of travelling non-stop from London to Perth, Western Australia, though a return flight requires a fuel stop due to headwinds. Singapore Airlines, for example, used this model (initially in a two-class, 181-passenger, layout and now in a 100-passenger business-only layout) for its Newark–Singapore nonstop route, SQ 21: an 18-hour, 45-minute "westbound" (really northbound to 70 nautical miles (129.6 km) abeam the North Pole; then south from there across Russia, Mongolia and People's Republic of China), 18-hour, 30-minute eastbound, 8,285 nautical miles (15,344 km) journey that is the longest scheduled non-stop commercial flight in the world until the flight ceases operation in 2013. The Singapore Airlines −500 is the first plane to include a corpse cupboard, a special locker on an airliner designed for storing the body of a passenger who dies during the flight.
Compared with the A340-300, the −500 features a 4.3-metre (14.1 ft) fuselage stretch, an enlarged wing area, significant increase in fuel capacity (around 50% over the −300), slightly higher cruising speed, larger horizontal stabilizer and smaller vertical tailplane. The A340-500 and −600 has taxi cameras to help the pilots during ground maneuvers. The A340-500 is powered by four 53,000 lbf (240 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 553 turbofans and uses the Honeywell 331–600[A] APU. Emirates is the largest operator, with ten aircraft.
The A340-500HGW (High Gross Weight) version has a range of 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km) and a MTOW of 380 tonnes (840,000 lb) and first flew on 13 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 11 April 2007. Kingfisher Airlines had planned to use this model to operate nonstop flights from India to North America. However, in October 2008, Kingfisher transferred three of its five delivery positions to Arik Air of Nigeria, due to the worldwide recession. Arik Air received these three A340-500s in November 2008, and placed them in service on its new Lagos–London Heathrow route and Lagos-Johannesburg route, with a nonstop route to New York added in January 2010. The A340-500HGW is powered by four 56,000 lbf (249.1 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 556 turbofans.
Designed as an early-generation Boeing 747 replacement, the A340-600 is capable of carrying 379 passengers in a three-class cabin layout 7,500 nautical miles (13,900 km). It provides similar passenger capacity to a 747 but with 25 percent 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 most direct Boeing equivalent to the A340-600 is the 777-300ER. The A340-600 will eventually be replaced by the A350-1000, which will also compete with the 777-300ER.
The A340-600 is 12 metres (39 ft 4.4 in) longer than a basic −300, more than four metres longer than the Boeing 747-400 and 2.3 metres (7 ft 6.6 in) longer than the A380. It held the record for being the world's longest commercial aircraft until February 2010 with the first flight of the Boeing 747-8. The A340-600 is powered by four 56,000 lbf (249.1 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 556 turbofans and uses the Honeywell 331–600[A] APU. It also has an additional four-wheel undercarriage on the fuselage centre-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 deck.
In April 2007, The Times reported that Airbus had advised carriers to reduce cargo in the forward section by 5.0 tonnes (11,023.1 lb) to compensate for overweight first and business class sections. The additional weight causes the aircraft's centre of gravity to move forward thus reducing cruise efficiency. Airlines affected by the advisory are considering demanding compensation from Airbus.
The A340-600HGW (High Gross Weight) version first flew on 18 November 2005 and was certified on 14 April 2006. It has an MTOW of 380 tonnes (837,756.6 lb) and a range of up to 7,900 nautical miles (14,630.8 km), made possible by strengthened structure, increased fuel capacity, more powerful engines and new manufacturing techniques like laser beam welding. The A340-600HGW is powered by four 60,000 lbf (266.9 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 560 turbofans.
Emirates became the launch customer for the −600HGW when it ordered 18 at the 2003 Paris Air Show; but postponed their order indefinitely and later cancelled. Rival Qatar Airways, which placed its order at the same airshow, took delivery of only four aircraft with the first aircraft on 11 September 2006. It has since let its purchase options expire.