The Airbus A300
is a short to medium range, wide-body
family of aircraft manufactured by Airbus Industrie
between 1972 and the present.
The A300 was the first twin-engined widebody airliner in the world. It inspired various Boeing twins such as Boeing 767 and 777. It was ground-breaking in other aspects and paved the way for ETOPS
After the initial flurry of the launch, sales of the A300 were weak for some years, with most orders going to airlines that had an obligation to order the locally-made product - notably Air France and Lufthansa. At one stage, Airbus had 16 "whitetail" A300s - completed but unsold aircraft sitting on the tarmac.
In 1977 giant US carrier Eastern Airlines leased four A300s as an in-service trial, and then ordered 23 of the type. From that time on, the A300 family sold well, eventually reaching the current total of 843 on order or delivered. It is unlikely that many more will be sold: the A300 is reaching the end of its market life and is mainly sold as a dedicated freighter now. The current version is A300-600R and is rated for 180-min ETOPS.
It enjoyed renewed interest in the seconhand market and many used examples are snapped up by buyers to be converted into dedicated freighters.
- A300B1 Only two were built: the first prototype and a second one which was later sold for airline service. It has accommodation for 259 passengers with a maximum weight of 132,000kg and two General Electric CF6-50A engines of 220kn thrust.
- A300B2 The first real production version. Powered by CF6 or Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines of between 227 and 236kn thrust, it entered service with Air France in May 1974.
- A300B4 The major production version of the early years was similar to the B2 but with weight increased to 157 tonnes. Production of the B2 and B4 totaled 248.
- A310 Introduced a shorter fuselage, a new, higher aspect ratio wing, smaller tail and two crew operation. Sales to date total 260.
- A300-600 The current 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 1988. It is available in both passenger and freight versions, and forms the basis of the Airbus Beluga. 330 A300-600s have been sold.