The A330/A340 Family looks to the future after its 1,000th delivery milestone
Airbus' 1,000th A330/A340 delivery underscores this aircraft family's role as the most successful mid-sized widebody programme ever, and highlights the continuing worldwide demand for these twin- and four-engine jetliners.
The milestone aircraft was an A330-300 received by Thai Airways International at a special ceremony today in Toulouse, France, where the A330/A340 final assembly line is located.
Airbus jointly launched the A330 and A340 as the world's first combined aircraft programme in June 1987 - with the twin-engine A330 and four-engine A340 sharing the same basic fuselage, wing and tail. In addition, their cockpit configuration was nearly identical, applying Airbus' advances in fly-by-wire flight controls as well as its capabilities in flight deck technology and system integration.
This innovative approach enabled Airbus to enter the higher capacity airline marketplace by offering a family of medium- to ultra-long-range aircraft that could be produced on the same final assembly line - providing flexibility for Airbus to meet customer demand for any of the A330 and A340 variants.
For airlines, the A330/A340 introduced unprecedented commonality amongst a family of modern transport aircraft - enabling carriers to benefit from efficiencies in operations and maintenance. The A330/A340's common fly-by-wire cockpit, combined with the extensive similarity to the single-aisle A320's flight deck, allowed the application of Airbus' cross crew qualification concept - where pilots trained to fly one Airbus aircraft can qualify to operate another with relatively little extra training. It also supported the company's mixed fleet flying concept - in which airlines are able to adapt their scheduling/utilisation of Airbus aircraft and their pilot crews at short notice to better match capacity to demand.
Airbus delivered its first A330/A340 Family aircraft in 1993. Today, the twin- and four-engine jetliners are flying with 100 operators worldwide, and the global fleet has accumulated more than 27 million flight hours in over five million revenue flights. They are used in a full range of airline operations, and also are flown by government and VIP customers.
With an order book that continues to grow, Airbus is maintaining the A330/A340's sustained production rate at 8.5 aircraft per month. In addition to the existing A330/A340 variants, Airbus' introduction of upgrades and new configurations will ensure the family's continued success for years to come. New models include the A330-200F - a modern mid-sized freighter that is to make its first flight later this year, and the A330 MRTT - a multi-role aircraft for military aerial refuelling and airlift missions, which is expected to enter service next year.