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The Airbus A300 is a short- to medium-range widebody aircraft. Launched in 1972 as the world's first twin-engined widebody, it was the first product of the Airbus consortium of European aerospace companies, wholly owned today by EADS. The A300 ceased production in July 2007, along with the smaller A310. Freighter sales for which the A300 competed are to be fulfilled by a new A330-200F derivative.

Development history

The mission requirements were given in 1966 by Frank Kolk, an American Airlines executive, for a Boeing 727 replacement on busy short- to medium-range routes such as United States transcontinental flights. His brief included a passenger capacity of 250 to 300 seated in a twin-aisle configuration and fitted with two engines, with the capability of carrying full passengers without penalty from high-altitude airports like Denvermarker. American manufacturers responded with widebody trijets, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, as twinjets were banned from many routes by the FAA.

In September 1967, the Britishmarker, Frenchmarker, and Germanmarker governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to start development of the 300-seat Airbus A300. An earlier announcement had been made in July 1967, but at that time the announcement had been clouded by the British Government's support for the Airbus, which coincided with its refusal to back British Aircraft Corporation's (BAC) proposed competitor, a development of the BAC 1-11, despite a preference for the latter expressed by British European Airways (BEA).

In the months following this agreement, both the French and British governments expressed doubts about the aircraft. Another problem was the requirement for a new engine to be developed by Rolls-Royce, the RB207. In December 1968, the French and British partner companies (Sud Aviation and Hawker Siddeley) proposed a revised configuration, the 250-seat Airbus A250. Renamed the A300B, the aircraft would not require new engines, reducing development costs. To attract potential US customers, American General Electric CF6-50 engines powered the A300 instead of the British RB207. The British government was upset and withdrew from the venture; however, the British firm Hawker-Siddeley stayed on as a contractor, developing the wings for the A300, which were pivotal in later versions' impressive performance from short domestic to long intercontinental flights. (Years later, through British Aerospace, the UK re-entered the consortium.)

Airbus Industrie was formally set up in 1970 following an agreement between Aérospatiale (France) and the antecedents to Deutsche Aerospace (Germany). They were joined by the Spanish CASA in 1971. Each company would deliver its sections as fully equipped, ready-to-fly items.

In 1972 the A300 made its maiden flight. The first production model, the A300B2, entered service in 1974. Initially the success of the consortium was poor, but by 1979 there were 81 aircraft in service. It was the launch of the A320 in 1981 that established Airbus as a major player in the aircraft market — the aircraft had over 400 orders before it first flew, compared to 15 for the A300 in 1972.

The A300 was the first airliner to use just-in-time manufacturing techniques. Complete aircraft sections were manufactured by consortium partners all over Europe. These were airlifted to the final assembly line at Toulouse-Blagnacmarker by a fleet of Boeing 377-derived Aero Spacelines Super Guppy aircraft. Originally devised as a way to share the work among Airbus' partners without the expense of two assembly lines, it turned out to be a more efficient way of building airplanes (more flexible and reduced costs) as opposed to building the whole airplane at one site. This fact was not lost on Boeing, which, over thirty years later, decided to manufacture the Boeing 787 in this manner, using outsized 747s to ferry wings and other parts from Japanmarker.

The A300 cemented European cooperation in aviation. Its first flight was commemorated on a Frenchmarker three franc stamp.

Technology



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 Systemsmarker) with:
  • 222-inch diameter circular fuselage section for 8-abreast passenger seating and wide enough for 2 LD3 cargo containers side-by-side
  • Structures made from metal billets, reducing weight
  • First airliner to be fitted with wind shear protection
  • Advanced autopilots capable of flying the aircraft from climb-out to landing
  • Electrically controlled braking system


Later A300s incorporate other advanced features such as:
  • 2-man crew by automating the flight engineer's functions, an industry first
  • Glass cockpit flight instruments
  • Extensive use of composites for an aircraft of its era
  • Center-of-gravity control by shifting around fuel
  • Wingtip fences for better aerodynamics (first introduced on the A310-300).


All these made the A300 a substitute for the widebody trijets such as McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 for short to medium routes. On the early versions, Airbus used the same engines and similar major systems as the DC-10.

In-service

After the launch, sales of the A300 were weak for some years, with most orders going to airlines that had an obligation to favor the domestically made product — notably Air France and Lufthansamarker. At one stage, Airbus had 16 "whitetail" A300s – completed but unsold aircraft – sitting on the tarmac. Indian Airlines was the world's first domestic airline to purchase the A300. These have now been retired.

In 1977, U.S. carrier Eastern Air Lines leased four A300s as an in-service trial. Frank Borman, ex-astronaut and the then CEO, was impressed that the A300 consumed 30% less fuel than his fleet of Tristars and then ordered 23 of the type. This was followed by an order from Pan Am. From then on, the A300 family sold rather well, eventually reaching the current total of 858 on order or delivered.

In 1977, AeroCóndor Colombia was the first Airbus operator in Colombia and Latin America, leased one Airbus A300 c/n 029 registered as HK-2057 and named as “Cuidad de Barranquilla” This aircraft operated since December 15 1977, until April 17 1979, with AeroCóndor scheduled services between Bogotá, Barranquilla, Cali, Medellín and Miami.

The aircraft found particular favour with Asian airlines, being bought by Japan Air System, Korean Air, Thai Airways International, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, China Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Indian Airlines, Trans Australia Airlines and many others. As Asia did not have restrictions similar to the FAA 60-minutes rule for twin-engine airliners which existed at the time, Asian airlines used A300s for routes across the Bay of Bengalmarker and South China Seamarker.

In 1977, the A300B4 became the first “ETOPS compliant” aircraft – its high performance and safety standards qualified it for Extended Twin Engine Operations over water, providing operators with more versatility in routing. Garuda Indonesia became the first airline to fly A300-B4. By 1981, Airbus was growing rapidly, with over 300 aircraft sold and options for 200 more planes for over forty airlines. Alarmed by the success of the A300, Boeing responded with the new Boeing 767.

The A300 provided Airbus the experience of manufacturing and selling airliners competitively. The basic fuselage of the A300 was later stretched (A330 and A340), shrunk (A310), or modified into derivatives (A300-600ST Beluga Super Transporter).

The A300 has reached the end of production, and the last A300 freighter has been completed and delivered. The largest freight operator of the A300 is FedEx Express, which, as of January 2006, had 95 A300/310 aircraft. UPS Airlines also operates freighter versions of the A300. The final version was the A300-600R and is rated for 180-minute ETOPS. The A300 has enjoyed renewed interest in the secondhand market for conversion to freighters. The freighter versions – either new-build A300-600s or converted ex-passenger A300-600s, A300B2s and B4s – account for most of the world freighter fleet after the Boeing 747 freighter.

In March 2006 Airbus announced the closure of the A300/A310 line making them the first Airbus aircraft to be discontinued. The final production A300 made its initial flight on 18 April 2007 and was delivered on 12 July 2007. It was an A300F freighter for FedEx. Airbus has announced a support package to keep A300s flying commercially until at least 2025.

Variants

  • A300B1 Only two were built: the first prototype, and a second aircraft which was later sold by Airbus for airline service to Air Algérie). 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 General Electric CF6 or Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines (the same engines that powered the Boeing 747-100, "the original jumbo jet") of between 227 and 236 kN thrust, it entered service with Air France in May 1974.
    • A300B2-100: 137 Metric Ton MTOW
    • A300B2-200: 142 Metric Ton MTOW, with Krüger flaps
    • A300B2-300: increased Maximum Landing Weight/Maximum Zero Fuel Weight
  • A300B4 The major production version. Features a center fuel tank for increased fuel capacity (47,500 kg). Production of the B2 and B4 totaled 248.
    • A300B4-100: 157.5 Metric Ton MTOW
    • A300B4-200: 165 Metric Ton MTOW
    • A300B4-200FF: An A300 with a "forward-facing" crew compartment. The world's first 2-crew widebody airliner. Includes some of the A310's and A300-600's digital avionics. First saw service with Garuda Indonesia in 1982, further customers were VASP, Tunisair, Kar-Air/Finnair and MNG Airlines.
    • A300B4-600: Referred to as the A300-600. See Below.
    • A300C4: Convertible freighter version, with a large cargo door on the port side. First delivered to South African Airways in October 1982.
    • A300F4-203: Freighter version of the A300B4-200. First delivery occurred in 1986, but only very few were built as the A300F4-200 was soon replaced by the more capable A300-600F (official designation: A300F4-600F).
  • A300-600: Officially designated A300B4-600, this 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 1983 with Saudi Arabian Airlines. A total of 313 A300-600s (all versions) have been sold. The A300-600 also has a similar cockpit to the A310, eliminating the need for a flight engineer. The FAA issues a single type rating which allows operation of both the A310 and A300-600.
    • A300-600: (Official designation: A300B4-600) The baseline model of the -600 series.
    • A300-620C: (Official designation: A300C4-620) A convertible freighter version. First delivery December 1985.
    • A300-600F: (Official designation: A300F4-600) The freighter version of the baseline -600.
    • A300-600R: (Official designation: A300B4-600R) The increased range -600, achieved by an additional trim fuel tank in the tail. First delivery in 1988 to American Airlines; all A300s built since 1989 (freighters included) are -600Rs. Japan Air System (later merged in Japan Air Lines) took delivery of the last new-built passenger A300, an A300-622R, in November 2002.
    • A300-600RF: (Official designation: A300F4-600R) The freighter version of the -600R. All A300s delivered between November 2002 and 12 July 2007 (last ever A300 delivery) were A300-600RFs.
    • A300-600ST: Commonly referred to as the Beluga or "Airbus Super Transporter," these five airframes are used by Airbus to ferry parts between the company's disparate manufacturing facilities, thus enabling workshare distribution. They replaced the four Aero Spacelines Super Guppys previously used by Airbus.
  • A300B10 (A310) Introduced a shorter fuselage, a new, higher aspect ratio wing, smaller tail and two crew operation. It is available in standard -200 and the Extended range -300 with 9,600 km range in both passenger and full cargo versions. It is also available as a military tanker/transport serving the Canadian Forces and Luftwaffe. Sales total 260, although five of these (ordered by Iraqi Airways) were never built.


Specifications

Measurement A300B4 A300-600R A300-600F
Typical Passenger Seating 266 (2-Class) 15 (21) pallets
Length 54.08 m or 177' 3"
Wing Span 44.85 m or 147' 2"
Wing Area 260 m² (2,800 ft²)
Height 16.62 m or 54' 6"
Max cabin width 5.28 m or 17' 4"
Fuselage diameter 5.64 m or 18' 6"
Typical Operating Weight Empty 90,060 kg or 198,132 lbs 90,900 kg or 200,400 lbs 81,900 kg or 180,700 lbs
MTOW 165,000 kg or 364,980 lbs 171,700 kg or 378,500 lbs 170,500 kg or 375,100 lbs
Take-off Run at MTOW N/A 2,324 m
Cruising speed mach 0.78 (829 km/h, 515 mph, 447 knots at 35,000 ft)
Maximum speed mach 0.82 (871 km/h, 541 mph, 470 knots at 35,000 ft)
Range fully loaded   6,670 km or 3,600 nm 7,540 km or 4,070 nm 4,850 km or 2,650 nm
Max. fuel capacity   62,900 litres 18,000 USG or 68,150 litres
Engines CF6-50C2 or JT9D-59A CF6-80C2 or PW4158
Cockpit Crew Three Two


Engines

Model Date Engines
A300B2-1A 1974 General Electric CF6-50A
A300B2-1C 1975 General Electric CF6-50C
A300B2K-3C 1976 General Electric CF6-50CR
A300B4-2C 1976 General Electric CF6-50C
A300B4-103 1979 General Electric CF6-50C2
A300B4-120 1979 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-59A
A300B2-203 1980 General Electric CF6-50C2
A300B4-203 1981 General Electric CF6-50C2
A300B4-220 1981 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-59A
A300B4-601 1988 General Electric CF6-80C2A1
A300B4-603 1988 General Electric CF6-80C2A3
A300B4-620 1983 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4H1
A300B4-622 2003 Pratt & Whitney PW4158
A300B4-605R 1988 General Electric CF6-80C2A5
A300B4-622R 1991 Pratt & Whitney PW4158
A300F4-605R 1994 General Electric CF6-80C2A5 or 2A5F
A300F4-622R 2000 Pratt & Whitney PW4158
A300C4-605R 2002 General Electric CF6-80C2A5


A300 Deliveries

 2007   2006   2005   2004   2003   2002   2001   2000   1999   1998   1997   1996   1995   1994   1993   1992   1991 
6 9 9 12 8 9 11 8 8 13 6 14 17 23 22 22 25
 1990   1989   1988   1987   1986   1985   1984   1983   1982   1981   1980   1979   1978   1977   1976   1975   1974 
19 24 17 11 10 16 19 19 46 38 39 26 15 15 13 8 4


Accidents and incidents

The A300 has been involved in 52 accidents and incidents including 25 hull-losses. Of the 25 hull losses only 9 involved fatalties.



See also

References

  1. The Airbus A300
  2. incident summary and photos


External links




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