End of Airbus A340 Production

Twenty years after its maiden flight, Airbus announced the final end of A340 production! While new A340 aircraft are no longer to be built, Airbus will continue to fully support the current global fleet of A340s, as long as they are in operation.

Four versions of the A340 were produced by Airbus: the A340-200, A340-300, A340-500 and A340-600.

The A340-200 is the shortest version of the family and the only version with wingspan measuring greater than the length of the fuselage. With 261 passengers in a three-class cabin layout the A340-200 has a range of 7,450 nautical miles (13,800 km). Due to performance improvement packages the -200 (labeled A340-213X) later provided a range of 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. South African Airways is the largest operator with six aircraft. The closest competitor is the Boeing 767-400ER.

The A340-300 was the initial version that entered service with Lufthansa and Air France in March 1993. It offers a range of over 6,700 nautical miles (12,400 km), in a typical three-class cabin layout with 295 passengers. Its closest competitor is the Boeing 777-200ER. The -300 will be superseded by the A350-900. A total of 218 A340-300s have been produced.

The A340-500 was the world’s longest-range commercial airliner until the introduction of the Boeing 777-200LR in February 2006 (However, the Boeing 777-200LR is subject to ETOPS restrictions). The A340-500 can fly 313 passengers in a three-class cabin layout over 8,650 nautical miles (16,020 km). The -500 first flew on 11 February 2002 with early deliveries to Emirates.
Due to its range, the -500 is capable of travelling non-stop from London to Perth, though a return flight requires a fuel stop due to headwinds. Singapore Airlines, for example, initially used this model in a two-class, 181-passenger layout for its Newark–Singapore nonstop route, SQ 21: an 18-hour, 45-minute “westbound”, 8,285 nautical miles (15,344 km) journey that remains the longest scheduled non-stop commercial flight in the world. A total of 36 -500s have been built.

Airbus A340-600 operated by Cathay Pacific (B-HQB)
Airbus A340-600 operated by Cathay Pacific (B-HQB)

The A340-600 was designed as an early-generation Boeing 747 replacement. The aircraft 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 Boeing 747-400 but with 25 percent more cargo volume, and at lower trip and seat costs. The Airbus A340-600 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 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. Many years Airbus promoted this remarkably long plane with a special livery, having written on the fuselage “LONGER – FARTHER – LARGER – FASTER – HIGHER – QUIETER – SMOOTHER”.
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 be replaced by the A350-1000. A total of 97 A340-600s were built.

The largest A340 operator is Lufthansa with 50 planes, followed by Iberia, Virgin Atlantic Airways and South African Airways.

To date, the A340 has never been part of a fatal incident, however there have been five hull-losses.



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