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 US 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 Denver. 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.
American Airlines A300In September 1967, the British, French, and German 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 Governmentï¿½s support for the Airbus, which coincided with its refusal to back British Aircraft Corporationï¿½s (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 versionsï¿½ impressive performance from short domestic to long intercontinental flights. (Years later, through British Aerospace, the UK re-entered the consortium.)
Airbus A300B4-600Airbus Industrie was formally set up in 1970 following an agreement between Aérospatiale (France), the antecedents to Deutsche Aerospace (Germany) . They were to be 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-Blagnac by a fleet of Boeing 377-derived Aero Spacelines Super Guppy aircraft. Originally devised as a way to share the work among Airbusï¿½s 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 Japan.
A300B1, A300B2-100: 137 Metric Ton MTOW
A300B2-200: 142 Metric Ton MTOW, with Kruger 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 ï¿½forward-facingï¿½ crew compartment. The worldï¿½s first 2-crew widebody airliner. Includes some of the A310ï¿½s and A300-600ï¿½s digital avionics. First saw service with Garuda in 1982, further customers were VASP, Tunisair and Kar-Air/Finnair.
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.
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 Airlines 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 ï¿½Airbus Super Transporter,ï¿½ these five airframes are used by Airbus to ferry parts between the companyï¿½s 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.