Airbus planned a large family of planes to compete with Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, two well-known American aerospace companies. Following that, Airbus concentrated its efforts on the single-aisle market, resulting in the Airbus A320 family. The decision to build on the A320 rather than the Germans' envisioned four-engine plane generated conflicts inside Airbus. As the SA or "single aisle" studies (which subsequently became the successful Airbus A320) were being developed to compete with the successful Boeing 737 and Douglas DC-9 in the single-aisle, narrow-body airliner market, Airbus shifted its attention back to the wide-body market. Airbus took a long time to create the B9, starting in the early 1970s and continuing until the early 1980s. The Lockheed L-1011 Tristar and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 were developed by McDonnell Douglas. The B9 and B11 were renamed the TA9 and TA11 to distinguish the programme from the SA studies.
Photo By Bernal Saborio on Flickr.
The A340 was supposed to have four CFM56-5 turbofan engines, each with a thrust of 25,000 pounds (110 kN). Due to the restricted power of engines available at the time, Airbus explored building the plane as a trijet. Instead, Pratt & Whitney JT10D-232 (redesignated PW2000 in December 1980) and Rolls-Royce RB211-535 were utilised. International Aero Engines, a partnership that included Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, Japanese Aero Engines Corporation, Fiat, and MTU Aero Engines, offered a radical new engine alternative, the IAE SuperFan, when the A340's design was refined (MTU).
Photo By Alessandro Caproni on Flickr.
The A330 and A340 were jointly introduced on June 5, 1987, just in time for the Paris Air Show. The most significant modifications occurred in France, when Aérospatiale began construction on a new Fr.2.5 billion ($411 million) assembly plant. British Aerospace received £450 million from the UK government, which was less than the £750 million it had requested. However, the most significant developments occurred in France, with Aérospatiale beginning building of a new Fr.2.5 billion ($411 million) assembly plant at Colomiers, next to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport. The A340 made its first flight on October 21, 1991, kicking off a 2,000-hour test flight programme comprising six aircraft. Apart from Lufthansa and International Lease Finance Corporation, the order book stood at 130 aircraft from ten customers at the time (ILFC). A340 models accounted for 89 percent of total orders. The European JAA certification was achieved on December 22, 1992, and the FAA certification was received on May 27, 1993.
Photo By Steven Byles on Flickr.
The A340 comes in four different versions. The A340-200 and A340-300 were introduced in 1987, with the 200 entering service in March 1993. The A340-500 and A340-600 were introduced to the market in 1997 and entered service in 2002. A corporate version was provided for all variations.
One of two early variants of the Airbus A340 is the A340-200. It features space for 261 passengers in a three-class cabin arrangement and is powered by Air France CFMI CFM56-5C4 engines with a range of 13,800 kilometres (7,500 miles) and a Honeywell 331–350[A] auxiliary power unit. The 200 was unpopular with mainstream airlines because to its huge wingspan, four engines, and insufficient capacity. A340-200s are also employed by Royal Brunei Airlines, Qatar Amiri Flight, the Arab Republic of Egypt Government, the Royal Saudi Air Force, Jordan, and the French Air and Space Force, in addition to the 8000. A340-213X is the designation for these planes.
There were 96 Airbus A340-300s in operation as of July 2018. This is the first variant, which first flew on October 25, 1991, and was first used by Lufthansa and Air France in March 1993. It is powered by four CFMI CFM56-5C engines and is equipped with the Honeywell 331–350 APU, which is comparable to the one found on the 200. The Boeing 777-200ER was its closest opponent. The A340-300 Enhanced is the most recent variant of this type, which was originally delivered to South African Airways in 2003 and joined Air Mauritius' fleet in 2006. It received upgraded avionics and fly-by-wire technologies developed for the A340-500 and 600, as well as updated CFM56-5C4/P engines.
The A340-500 was the world's longest-range commercial airliner when it was introduced. The initial customer was scheduled to be Air Canada, however the airline filed for bankruptcy in January 2003. Emirates was able to establish nonstop service from Dubai to New York as a result of this. Singapore Airlines utilised this type for its Newark–Singapore and Singapore–Newark routes between 2004 and 2013. The aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 553 turbofans and Honeywell 331–600 APUs. The 500 has a range of 9,000 nautical miles and is designed for ultra long-haul trips. The A340-500IGW is powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 556 turbofans with a thrust of 250 kN (56,000 lbf). From 2013 onwards, Singapore Airlines stopped operating the service, owing to high fuel prices at the time, and returned the plane to Airbus in exchange for new Airbus A350 planes. The type is being used by Nigerian airline Arik Air to launch two new routes: Lagos–London Heathrow and Lagos–New York. The A340-500, like the A340-200, a shorter version of the 300, was a flop.
The A340-600 is 12 metres (39 feet 4.4 inches) longer than a 300 and almost 4 metres (13 feet 1.5 inches) longer than a Boeing 747-400. The 777-300ER is the variant's main competitor. To cope with the greater MTOW, it includes a four-wheel undercarriage bogie, just like the 500. The A340-600HGW (High Gross Weight) version took to the skies for the first time on November 18, 2005, and was certified on April 14, 2006. Four 61,900 lbf (275 kN) thrust engines are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 560 turbofans. When Emirates purchased 18 during the 2003 Paris Air Show, it became the first customer; however, it postponed the order indefinitely and later cancelled it. There were 60 A340-600s in operation with six airlines throughout the world as of July 2018.
Photo By H. Michael Miley on Flickr.
Although there have been six hull losses, the A340 has never been involved in a tragic accident.
In 1997, a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-311 made an emergency landing on Heathrow Airport's Runway 27L. In 2005, an accident and subsequent fire at Toronto Pearson International Airport destroyed Air France Flight 358. In 2007, Iberia Airlines Flight 6463 skidded off the runway at Mariscal Sucre Airport in Ecuador. Emirates Flight 407 was an Emirates flight flying from Melbourne to Dubai-International in 2009. The plane failed to take off correctly from Melbourne Airport, colliding with many structures towards the end of the runway before ascending high enough to return to the airport and land safely.
In June 2018, a fire destroyed a Lufthansa A340-300, registration D-AIFA, in Frankfurt's terminal. During a significant attack by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam terrorists at Bandaranaike International Airport in 2001, SriLankan Airlines 4R-ADD was one of 26 planes damaged or destroyed. 15 November 2007 — During ground testing, Airbus' facilities at Toulouse Blagnac International Airport were destroyed beyond repair. It was supposed to arrive at Etihad Airways.
Photo By HScarlet Sappho on Flickr.
The A340-200/300 was the first Airbus aircraft with four turbofan jet engines for long-range travel. ETOPS limitations such as frequent inspections were avoided by using four engines. With a maximum operating Mach number of 0.86, the A340 features a low cantilever wing. Its improvements and features were frequently shared with the A330. The two engines for each wing distribute weight more evenly and offer more outboard engine weight for a lower wing root bending moment at equal TOW, allowing a higher wing limitation MTOW for more range. The failure of the IAE SuperFan, which promised a 15% improved fuel burn, prompted wing improvements on the Avro RJ and Boeing 737 Classic. Instead of the wingtip fences present on earlier Airbus aircraft, the aircraft now sports a 2.74 m (9.0 ft) tall winglet. The wing span is similar to that of the larger Boeing 747-200, however the wing area is 35 percent smaller.
Photo By Colin Brown on Flickr.
A total of 377 A340 family aircraft were delivered throughout the course of the programme, with 214 in service as of December 2021. Lufthansa (34), Mahan Air (12), South African Airways (10), Swiss International Air Lines (5) were the largest scheduled airline carriers, followed by governments, charter and private operators with less aircraft of the type.