As we have seen, Roger Béteille had been determined from the start that Airbus should set new standards in technology and innovation. By its very nature, the A300 had done just that by becoming the world’s first twin-engine widebody. Other features, including the first use of composites in secondary structures on commercial aircraft and its raised cabin floor – allowing it to carry more cargo and therefore increasing its economic efficiency – had contributed to its innovative appeal to customers. In 1977, the A300B4 became the first “ETOPS compliant” aircraft – its high performance and safety standards qualified it for Extended Twin Engine Operations over water, providing operators with more versatility in routing. With the A310, launched in July, 1978, Airbus employed its innovative skills and technological know-how to even greater effect. And, as with all future Airbus programmes, the advances made in the development of the new aircraft were fed back into the existing model, the A300.
The A310, which once again was developed in consultation with airlines, was to be a shorter, longer-range aircraft than the A300, seating 218 in a two-class configuration. It also incorporated another concept which would later become a cornerstone of Airbus’ success: both models would have maximum commonality. Airbus introduced the use of lighter-weight carbon fibre reinforced plastic on secondary structures such as spoilers, airbrakes and rudder - first in trial on an A300 and then with the A310-200 when it entered service in 1983. Two years later, the A310-300 with its all-composite fin saw the first use of composites on primary structures, as well as the highly-effective addition of drag-reducing wing-tip devices which improved fuel efficiency.