The Airbus A340 is a long-range, four-engine, wide-body commercial passenger jet airliner that was developed and produced by the European aerospace company Airbus. The A340 was assembled in Toulouse, France. It seats up to 375 passengers in the standard variants and 440 in the stretched -600 series. Depending on the model, it has a range of 6,700 to 9,000 nautical miles (12,400 to 16,700 km; 7,700 to 10,400 mi). Its distinguishing features are four high-bypass turbofan engines and three-leg main landing gear.
The A340 was manufactured in four fuselage lengths. The initial variant, A340-300, which entered service in 1993, measured 63.69 metres (209.0 ft). The shorter -200 was developed next, and the A340-600 was a 15.96 metres (52.4 ft) stretch of the -200. The -600 was developed alongside the shorter A340-500, which would become the longest-range commercial airliner until the arrival of the Boeing 777-200LR. The -200 and -300 models are powered by the 151 kilonewtons (34,000 lbf) CFM56-5C, while the 267-kilonewton (60,000 lbf) Rolls-Royce Trent 500 is the exclusive powerplant for the extended-range -500 and -600 models. The initial A340-200 and -300 variants share the fuselage and wing of the twin-engine Airbus A330 with which it was concurrently designed. The heavier A340-500 and -600 are stretched and have enlarged wings.
Launch customers Lufthansa and Air France placed the A340 into service in March 1993. In September 2011, 379 orders had been placed (not including private operators), of which 375 were delivered. The most common type is the A340-300 model, with 218 aircraft delivered. Lufthansa, the biggest operator of the A340, acquired 62 aircraft, and continues to operate 32 -300 and -600 series variants as of June 2019. The A340 is used mainly on long-haul, trans-oceanic routes due to its immunity from ETOPS restrictions; however, with reliability and fuel efficiency in engines improving, airlines are gradually phasing out the type in favour of more economical twinjets of comparable capacity such as the Boeing 777, while Airbus has positioned the larger variants of the Airbus A350 as a successor. Airbus announced on 10 November 2011 that A340 production had been concluded.
The Airbus A340 is a wide-body twin-aisle passenger airliner which has the distinction of being the first truly long-range aircraft to be produced by Airbus. It is powered by four FADEC turbofan jet engines, optimized to perform long distance routes. The A340 had been built upon developments made in the production of earlier Airbus aircraft and as such shares many features with those aircraft, such as a common cockpit design with the Airbus A320 and A330; as the aircraft was developed at the same time as the A330, the two aircraft employ many similar components and sections, such as identical fly-by-wire control systems and similar wings. Both before and after the A340 entered revenue service, the features and improvements developed were usually shared with the A330.
The A340 is a low-wing cantilever monoplane; for the A340-200 and A340-300 variants, the wing itself is virtually identical to that of the A330. On the A330-300, one engine is installed at the inboard pylon while the outboard pylon position is not used; for the A340-300, both engine pylons are used. The A340’s two engines at each wing provide a more equal force distribution (engine weight) over the wing; also, the total engine weight counteracting moment is located more outboard with more engine weight located further outboard on the wing, hence the wing root bending moment with equal TOW is less on the A340-300 than on the A330-300, which allows the A340-300 wing to able to sustain a higher (wing limited) MTOW to carry more fuel for greater range. The wings were designed and manufactured by BAe, which developed a long slender wing with a very high aspect ratio to provide high aerodynamic efficiency. The wing is swept back at 30 degrees and, along with other design features, allows a maximum operating Mach number of 0.86. The wing has a very high thickness-to-chord ratio of 12.8 per cent, which means that a long span and high aspect ratio can be attained without a severe weight penalty. For comparison, the rival MD-11 has a thickness-to-chord ratio of 8–9 per cent. Each wing also has a 2.74 m (9.0 ft) tall winglet instead of the wingtip fences found on earlier Airbus aircraft. The failure of International Aero Engines’ radical ultra-high-bypass V2500 SuperFan, which had promised around 15 per cent fuel burn reduction for the A340, led to multiple enhancements including wing upgrades to compensate. Originally designed with a 56 m (184 ft) span, the wing was later extended to 58.6 m (192 ft) and finally to 60.3 m (198 ft). At 60.3 m (198 ft), the wingspan is similar to that of the larger Boeing 747-200, but with 35 percent less wing area.
The flight deck of the A340 is a glass cockpit, based upon the control systems first used on the smaller A320. Instead of a conventional control yoke, the flight deck features side-stick controls. The main instrument panel is dominated by six cathode ray tube monitors which display information to the flight crew; on later aircraft, these monitors have been replaced by liquid crystal displays. Flight information is directed via the Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) and systems information through the Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor (ECAM). The aircraft monitoring system is connected to various sensors throughout the aircraft and automatically alerts the crew to any parameters detected outside of their normal range; pilots can also manually inspect systems of their choosing at any time. The information display system is designed to be easily interpreted and give a clear picture of the aircraft’s operational status. Instead of paper manuals, electronic CD-ROM-based manuals are used; Airbus offers web-based updates to electronic documentation as an option.
Many measures were taken from the start of the A340’s design process to reduce the difficulty and cost of maintenance, which was reportedly half of that of the earlier Airbus A310 despite the increase in size. The aircraft’s four engines featured improved controls and monitoring systems that enabled engine parameters to be more readily checked and avoid unnecessary early removals; the four-engine approach also avoided the stringent ETOPS requirements such as more frequent inspections. The A340 also has a centralised maintenance computer which provides comprehensive easily understandable systems information, which can be transmitted in real-time to ground facilities via the onboard satellite-based ACARS datalink. Some aspects of the maintenance, such as structural changes, remained unchanged, while increased sophistication of technology in the passenger cabin, like the in-flight entertainment systems, were increased over preceding airliners.
Designed to replace early-generation Boeing 747 airliners, the A340-600 is capable of carrying 379 passengers in a three-class cabin layout 13,900 km (7,500 nmi). It provides similar passenger capacity to a 747 but with 25 percent more cargo volume, and at lower trip and seat costs. First flight of the A340-600 was made on 23 April 2001. Virgin Atlantic began commercial services in August 2002. The variant’s main competitor is the 777-300ER. The A340-600 was replaced by the A350-1000.
The A340-600 is 12 m (39 ft 4.4 in) longer than a -300, more than 4 m (13 ft 1.5 in) longer than the Boeing 747-400 and 2.3 m (7 ft 6.6 in) longer than the A380, and has two emergency exit doors added over the wings. It held the record for the world’s longest commercial aircraft until the first flight of the Boeing 747-8 in February 2010. The A340-600 is powered by four 250 kN (56,000 lbf) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 556 turbofans and uses the Honeywell 331–600 APU. As with the -500, it has a four-wheel undercarriage bogie on the fuselage centre-line to cope with the increased MTOW along with the enlarged wing and rear empennage. Upper deck main cabinspace can be optionally increased by locating facilities such as crew rest areas, galleys, and lavatories upon the aircraft’s lower deck. In early 2007, Airbus reportedly advised carriers to reduce cargo in the forward section by 5.0 t (11,000 lb) to compensate for overweight first and business class sections; the additional weight caused the aircraft’s centre of gravity to move forward thus reducing cruise efficiency. Affected airlines considered filing compensation claims with Airbus.
The A340-600HGW (High Gross Weight) version first flew on 18 November 2005 and was certified on 14 April 2006. It has an MTOW of 380 t (840,000 lb) and a range of up to 14,630 km (7,900 nmi), made possible by strengthened structure, increased fuel capacity, more powerful engines and new manufacturing techniques like laser beam welding. The A340-600HGW is powered by four 61,900 lbf (275 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 560 turbofans. Emirates became the launch customer for the -600HGW when it ordered 18 at the 2003 Paris Air Show; but postponed its order indefinitely and later cancelled. Rival Qatar Airways, which placed its order at the same airshow, took delivery of only four aircraft with the first aircraft on 11 September 2006. The airline has since let its purchase options expire in favour of orders for the Boeing 777-300ER.
As of July 2018, there were 60 A340-600s in service with six airlines worldwide.
A total of 159 aircraft (all A340 variants) were in service in July 2018. Airline operators were Lufthansa (32), Iberia (17), South African Airways (17), Mahan Air (11), and other airlines with fewer aircraft of the type.
Data through end of July 2017. Updated on 6 August 2017.
End of production
In 2005, 155 B777s were ordered against 15 A340s: twin engine ETOPS restrictions were overcome by lower operating costs, compared to quad jets. In 2007, Airbus predicted that another 127 A340 aircraft would likely be produced through 2016, the projected end of production.
On 10 November 2011, Airbus announced the end of the A340 program. At that time, the company indicated that all firm orders had been delivered. The decision to terminate the program came as A340-500/600 orders came to a halt, with analyst Nick Cunningham pointing out that the A340 “was too heavy and there was a big fuel burn gap between the A340 and Boeing’s 777”. Bertrand Grabowski, managing director of aircraft financier DVB Bank SE, noted “in an environment where the fuel price is high, the A340 has had no chance to compete against similar twin engines, and the current lease rates and values of this aircraft reflect the deep resistance of any airlines to continue operating it”.
As a sales incentive amid low customer demand during the Great Recession, Airbus had offered buy-back guarantees to airlines that chose to procure the A340. By 2013, the resale value of an A340 declined by 30% over ten years, and both Airbus and Rolls-Royce were incurring related charges amounting to hundreds of millions of euros. Some analysts have expected the price of a flight-worthy, CFM56-powered A340 to drop below $10 million by 2023.
Airbus could offer used A340s to airlines wishing to retire older aircraft such as the Boeing 747-400, claiming that the cost of purchasing and maintaining a second-hand A340 with increased seating and improved engine performance reportedly compared favourably to the procurement costs of a new Boeing 777.
In 2013, as ultra-long range is a niche, the A340 was less attractive with best usage on long, thin routes, from hot-and-high airports or as interim air charter. A 10 year old A340-300 had a base value of $35m and a market value of $24m, leading to $320,000/mo ($240,000-$350,000) lease rate, while a -500 is $425,000 and a -600 is leased $450,000 to $500,000 per month, versus $1.3m for a 777-300ER. The lighter A340-300 consumes 5% less fuel per trip with 300 passengers than the 312 passengers 777-200ER while the heavier A340-600 uses 12% more fuel than a 777-300ER.
As an effort to support the A340’s resale value, Airbus has proposed reconfiguring the aircraft’s interior for a single class of 475 seats. As the Trent 500 engines are half the maintenance cost of the A340, Rolls-Royce proposed a cost-reducing maintenance plan similar to the company’s existing program that reduced the cost of maintaining the RB211 engine powering Iberia’s Boeing 757 freighters. Key to these programs is the salvaging, repair and reuse of serviceable parts from retired older engines.
Airbus has positioned the larger versions of the A350, specifically the A350-900 and A350-1000, as the successors to the A340-500 and A340-600.
The ACJ340 is listed on the Airbus Corporate Jets website, as Airbus can convert retired A340 airliners to VIP transport configuration.
|Seating||261 (3-class) or 303 (30F + 273Y)||277 (3-class) or 335 (30F + 305Y)||293 or 313 (12F + 36J + 265Y)||326 or 380 (12F + 54J + 314Y)|
|Length||59.39 m / 194.85 ft||63.69 m / 208.96 ft||67.93 m / 222.87 ft||75.36 m / 247.24 ft|
|Wingspan||60.3 m / 197.83 ft||63.45 m / 208.17 ft|
|Wing||363.1 m2 (3,908 sq ft), 29.7° sweep, 10 AR||437.3 m2 (4,707 sq ft), 31.1° sweep, 9.2 AR|
|Height||17.03 m / 55.86 ft||16.99 m / 55.72 ft||17.53 m / 57.51 ft||17.93 m / 58.84 ft|
|Fuselage||5.287 m / 208.15 in cabin width, 5.64 m / 18.5 ft outside width|
|Cargo volume||158.4 m3 (5,590 cu ft)||132.4 m3 (4,680 cu ft)||149.7 m3 (5,290 cu ft)||201.7 m3 (7,120 cu ft)|
|MTOW||275 t (606,000 lb)||276.5 t (610,000 lb)||380 t (840,000 lb)|
|Max. PL||51 t (112,000 lb)||52 t (115,000 lb)||54 t (119,000 lb)||66 t (146,000 lb)<|
|OEW||118 t (260,000 lb)||131 t (289,000 lb)||168 t (370,000 lb)||174 t (384,000 lb)|
|Max. Fuel||110.4 t / 243,395 lb||175.2 t / 386,292 lb||155.5 t / 342,905 lb|
|Engines (×4)||CFM International CFM56-5C||Trent 553||Trent 556|
|Thrust (×4)||138.78–151.24 kN (31,200–34,000 lbf)||248.12–275.35 kN (55,780–61,902 lbf)|
|Speed||Mach 0.86 (493 kn; 914 km/h) max, Mach 0.82 (470 kn; 871 km/h) cruise|
|Range, max pax||7,600 nmi (14,100 km)||7,150 nmi (13,240 km)||9,000 nmi (17,000 km)||7,550 nmi (13,980 km)|
|Take off||2,900 m (9,500 ft)||3,000 m (10,000 ft)||3,350 m (10,990 ft)||3,400 m (11,200 ft)|
|Ceiling||12,500 m (41,000 ft)||12,527 m (41,100 ft)|
|A340-211||22 December 1992||CFM 56-5C2|
|A340-212||14 March 1994||CFM 56-5C3|
|A340-213||19 December 1995||CFM 56-5C4|
|A340-311||22 December 1992||CFM 56-5C2|
|A340-312||14 March 1994||CFM 56-5C3|
|A340-313||16 March 1995||CFM 56-5C4|
|A340-541||3 December 2002||RR Trent 553-61 / 553A2-61|
|A340-542||15 February 2007||RR Trent 556A2-61|
|A340-642||21 May 2002||RR Trent 556-61 / 556A2-61|
|A340-643||11 April 2006||RR Trent 560A2-61|