A widebody twinjet airliner produced by Airbus from 1971 until 2007, and the first widebody twinjet to enter service.
The Airbus A300 is a twin-engine widebody (twin-aisle) airliner formerly produced by airbus starting in 1971; when Air France began operating the A300 in May 1974, it became the fourth widebody to enter service (after the boeing-747, dc-10, and lockheed-tristar), and the first-ever twin-engine widebody (the 747 had - and still has - four engines, while the DC-10 and Tristar each had three). Twin-engine aircraft are more efficient than those with three or four engines, but, at the time the A300 was introduced, only airliners with three or more engines were allowed to fly long overwater routes, which locked the A300 out of the lucrative transatlantic and transpacific routes that were a mainstay for other widebodies. As a result, for several years, Airbus had great difficulty attracting orders for the A300, with most of their sales during this time going to French and German airlines which were obligated to favor domestically-produced aircraft.
The A300 was saved by the 1977 introduction of etops, which allowed twinjets with a provable track record of engine reliability to operate on routes passing further than 60 minutes' single-engine flying time from the nearest airport. The A300, with three years of reliable operation under its belt, became the first airliner able to take advantage of the new rules, allowing it to quickly gain a foothold with American airlines for long intercontinental routes. Around the same time, Airbus also started putting more effort into marketing the A300 in East and South Asian countries, where passenger loads were (and are) heavy enough to necessitate using widebodies even on short domestic trips; this effort, too, paid off, and Airbus ended up selling 561 A300s in several different variants before production finally ended in 2007. The A300 was replaced in Airbus's lineup by the airbus-a330, and, to a much lesser extent, the airbus-a340.
Said variants were:
- The A300B1 was the prototype version, with only two produced; one of these entered airline service in November 1974. It was the smallest version of the A300, being two and a half meters shorter than the production versions.
- The A300B2 was the first production version, and the first version to enter airline service. It was longer than the A300B1, but otherwise similar.
- The A300B4 was similar to the A300B2, but included an additional center tank for increased fuel capacity, as well as a more extensive high-lift-device system on the wings.
- The A300-600, the longest-range A300, was developed from the smaller airbus-a310, itself an offshoot of the earlier A300 versions. It has more powerful engines than the earlier versions of the A300, along with a two-person cockpit (eliminating the need for a flight-engineer) and various aerodynamic improvements on the wings.
For more information, see Wikipedia.