The Airbus A340 is a four engine jet with a wide body that became popular in the early 1990s for commercial travel. If you were privileged to take a flight on this airliner you may be wondering what ever happened to the model. We have the answers for you right here, along with 10 interesting things that you probably didn’t know about the Airbus A340 airliner.
1. The Airbus A340 was produced for 20 years
This is a remarkably long production run for the unique aircraft. Initial production began in 1991, and orders began to come in from commercial airline carriers and it provided Airbus Industrie with a backlog of craft to build. 20 years after the production began, the manufacturer had filled all the orders that were placed and they made the official announcement that they would no longer produce this model.
2. The A340 was the company’s first long range aircraft
The A340 was really a masterpiece in design, performance and efficiency. The engineers and designers combined their expertise to develop a craft that could fly longer distances, stay in the air longer, get there faster, fly higher with a quieter and smoother ride. These were lofty aspirations, and they pulled them off. This model was Airbus’ first long range airliner that rivaled the performance of the Boeing 747 100 and 200 models. They saved nearly $500 million by designing the A340 with similar elements as the A330 with cockpit designs so similar that the necessary training took only one week to master proficiency. The savings could also be passed down to the passengers of the jet which further enhanced its desirability.
3. There are three variants of the A340
The A340 has similarities to the Douglas DC8 and the Boeing 707 with similar engines, wing design and the lack of a bubble on top as seen in the 747. The A340, the A340 200 and 300 variants were shorter than thee 500 and 600 variations. The A340 600 held the record as the longest airliner in the world until the Boeing 777 200LR displaced it.
4. An Airbus A340 caught on fire
One of Lufthansa’s Airbus A340-300 jets caught on fire while it was being towed. The event was not due to any defects in the aircraft, but rather from the tow truck which caught on fire. The incident caused damage to the nose of the plane, and while there were no crew members or passengers on board, 10 people on the ground were hospitalized from smoke inhalation. This accident happened at the airport in Frankfurt.
5. The last two versions of the A340 were developed by Rolls Royce
The famed Rolls Royce automobile manufacturer was also heavily involved in aeronautics manufacture. They took over the development of the development process for the A340 500 and 600 variants and gave them larger wings and a longer body so they had the capacity to travel for longer distances.
6. Airbus ran into problems with the A340
When the A340 was under development, Airbus ran into several issues. They were having financial issues and needed assistance from the UK government to continue. The government only gave them a bit over half of the amount that was requested, so in order to continue development, they had to find the funds from other places. Finally, Germany and France helped with the needed funding and later, from other countries. They eventually pulled the plan together and the A340 made its first flight in 1991.
7. The Airbus A340 was not just a commercial jet airliner
Although there were several commercial airline companies that ordered the A340 for their fleets, they were not the only ones interested in the craft. There was also a number of businesses and private companies that purchased the jet for their own use. It caught on big in both the public and private sectors and became one of the most popular passenger jets, no doubt because of their reliability.
8. The number of passengers who’ve flown on the Airbus 340 is staggering
If you had to guess at how many passengers have boarded and flown on the Airbus 340, what number would you give? We’ll give you a few clues. It’s flown an average of 16.2 hours of flight daily, it’s logged in over 18 million flight hours, and 550 million passengers have flown on the A340.
9. Two A340 variants were developed along simultaneously
Any time a new jet airliner is developed it is a magnificent feat, but the 500 and 600 variants were made at the same time. This was actually accomplished without a lot of hassle because the 600 was simply made to be the longer version of the A340 that would accommodate more passengers, which was a savvy business move to appeal to the clients that already loved the A340 but needed something with a higher seating capacity.
10. The A340 can fly at higher altitudes than many others of its class
The fact that the A340 is capable of flying at higher altitudes was a major selling card to airlines looking to add to their fleet. This impressive aircraft is still immensely popular and many of the examples built in the 20 year production run are still in service and although no new craft will be produced, they are likely to be around for a while.