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An Airbus A300-600R of Tunisair at Düsseldorf Airport.
The Airbus A300 is a twin-engined, widebody airliner for short and medium range flights, seating around 250-300 passengers. In sales numbers it is the first large European jetliner with real success on the world market. A total of 561 aircraft has been built.
The governments chose the HBN-100 for further development, but the French government coupled Sud Aviation to Hawker Siddeley instead of Nord, because Sud already closely cooperated with Hawker on the Concorde supersonic transport project. In September 1966 Hawker and Sud started talks with German manufacturers, which jointly formed Deutsche Airbus GmbH. Subsequently the partners asked their governments financial support for the development of the airliner. The project became now known as 'A300'.
Downscaling to A300B
When McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed started the development of their DC-10 and TriStar respectively, Rolls-Royce saw better perspectives in a new engine for these widebodies than for the A300 and stopped work on the RB.207. Instead it launched the smaller RB.211, which was chosen by Lockheed for the TriStar. The RB.211 also was a more suitable option for the A300, which was soon scaled down to the smaller 'A300B' with around 250 seats.
Airbus Industrie is set up
In December 1970 the consortium Airbus Industrie was officially set up by Aérospatiale (the result of a merger between Sud Aviation and Nord Aviation) and Deutsche Airbus. In spite of the lack of government support Hawker Siddeley decided to stay as a partner in the project and became responsibe for the design and production of the wings. Soon CASA of Spain and Fokker-VFW of The Netherlands joined with 2 and 6.6 per cent stakes respectively. The final assembly line was set up in Toulouse, France, and the production work was divided between the partners. During the further development of the A300B the only important design change was a 9 cm increase in fuselage diameter to make standard LD3 luggage containers fit in the belly cargo compartment. This type of container was also used in the 747, DC-10 and TriStar so that easy transfer of cargo and luggage at hub airports could be guaranteed.
The Airbus A300 started selling slowly. Until late 1977 only 53 aircraft were sold (plus 41 options) and during that year production fell to less than one aircraft a month. The breakthrough came with a trial lease of four A300s by the US carrier Eastern Airlines in August 1977. Easy was very satisfied about the performance of the aircraft and in April 1978 ordered 19 (plus nine options) in April 1978 and Eastern also bought the four A300s it had on trial. Since then Airbus Industrie received more orders from several new customers and in the year 1978 airlines signed contracts for 70 aircraft (plus 27 options). At that time the total number sold was 128 (plus 53 options).
An Airbus Iran Air A300-600R approaches Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
Of the Airbus A300 several main versions exist:
This was the first and smallest version of the A300B. Only two aircraft were built. One was the Airbus test aircraft, the other was operated by TEA Trans European Airlines of Belgium.
The first version to enter service was the A300B2 of which 59 examples were built until 1983.
The Airbus A300B4 is a heavier, longer-range variant of the B2 with extra fuel capacity, and soon became the standard production version. 189 were built. The A300C4 is a convertible passenger/cargo variant of the B4 with a maindeck cargo door and a strengthened cabin floor. This version can also be flown in a mixed passenger/cargo configuration. The first example went to the German charter airline Hapag-Lloyd Flug in 1980.
The Airbus A300-600 is an improved derivative, which first flew on July 8, 1983, and entered service in March 1984. Like the A310 it has a two-crew digital flightdeck and seating capacity is slightly increased by adopting the A310's more efficiently designed rear fuselage section.
The A300-600R offers increased fuel capacity, heavier weights and more range. The A300-600R's maiden flight took place on December 9, 1987, and it was followed by the development of the A300-600F freighter, which first flew in December 1993. During the last years of production Airbus only built the A300-600F for package carriers like Federal Express and UPS.
A very special version is the A300-600ST (Super Transporter) Beluga, first flown on 13 September 1994 and put in service about a year later. It was developed to carry large aircraft parts between the factories of Airbus-partners and other over-sized or voluminous cargo. The Beluga replaced the Super-Guppy, a converted Boeing Stratocruiser, which was used for this task during the first years of Airbus Industrie. Thanks to its wide fuselage the Beluga can take large cargo loads, including wings and aircraft fuselage sections. For A380-fuselage sections the Beluga cargo compartment is not big enough, however. Five Beluga's were built.
TNT flies this Airbus A300 which was converted to become a freighter.
JAL / JAS