Airbus A300 Series
Twin-jet Airliner

Archive Photos 1

Airbus A300B Photos via the Skytamer Archive

Overview 2

The Airbus A300 is a short-range to medium-range widebody jet airliner. Launched in 1972 as the worlD’s first Twin-engine widebody, it was the first product of Airbus Industrie, a consortium of European aerospace companies, fully owned today by EADS. The A300 can typically seat 266 passengers in a two-class layout, with a maximum range of 4,070 nautical miles (7,540 km) when fully loaded, depending on model.

Launch customer Air France introduced the type into service on 30 May 1974. Production of the A300 ceased in July 2007, along with its smaller A310 derivative. Freighter sales for which the A300 competed are to be fulfilled by a new A330-200F derivative.

Development 2

The mission requirements were given in 1966 by Frank Kolk, an American Airlines executive, for a Boeing 727 replacement on busy short-range to medium-range routes such as United States 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.

In September 1967, the British, French, and German governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding 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 Government’s support for the Airbus, which coincided with its refusal to back British Aircraft Corporation’s (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 triple-spool RB207 of 47,500 lbf. 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 versions’ impressive performance from short domestic to long intercontinental flights.

Airbus Industrie was formally set up in 1970 following an agreement between Aérospatiale (France) and the antecedents to Deutsche Aerospace (Germany). They were 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, which was later commemorated on a French three franc stamp. The first production model, the A300B2, entered service in 1974 followed by the A300B4 one year later. 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 1987 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 Airbus’ partners without the expense of two assembly lines, it turned out to be a more efficient way of building aircraft (more flexible and reduced costs) as opposed to building the whole aircraft at one site.

Design 2

Airbus partners employed the latest technology, some derived from the Concorde. On entry into service in 1974, the A300 was a very advanced plane and influenced later subsonic airliner designs. The technological highlights include:

Later A300s incorporate other advanced features such as:

All these made the A300 a substitute for the widebody trijets such as McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 for short to medium routes. On the early versions, Airbus used the same engines and similar major systems as the DC-10.

Operational History 2

After the launch, sales of the A300 were weak for some years, with most orders going to airlines that had an obligation to favor the domestically made product - notably Air France and Lufthansa. At one stage, Airbus had 16 "whitetail" A300s - completed but unsold aircraft - sitting on the tarmac. Germanair was the worlD’s first charter airline and Indian Airlines was the worlD’s first domestic airline to purchase the A300. These have now been retired.

In 1974, Korean Air ordered four A300s, becoming the first non-European international airline to order Airbus aircraft. Airbus saw South-East Asia as a vital market ready to be opened up and believed Korean Air to be the ’key’.

It was becoming clear that the whole concept of a short haul widebody was flawed. Airlines operating the A300 on short haul routes were forced to reduce frequencies in order to try and fill the aircraft. As a result they lost passengers to airlines operating more frequent narrow body flights. The supposed widebody comfort which it was assumed passengers would demand was illusory. Eventually, Airbus had to build its own narrow body aircraft (the A320) to compete with the Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9/MD-80. The savior of the A300 was the advent of Extended Range Twin Operations (ETOPS), a revised FAA rule which allows Twin-engine airliners to fly long-distance routes that were previously off-limits to them. This enabled Airbus to develop the aircraft as a medium/long range airliner.

In 1977, U.S. carrier Eastern Air Lines leased four A300s as an in-service trial. Frank Borman, ex-astronaut and the then CEO, was impressed that the A300 consumed 30% less fuel than his fleet of Tristars and then ordered 23 of the type. This order is often cited as the point at which Airbus came to be seen as a serious competitor to the large American aircraft-manufacturers Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. This was followed by an order from Pan Am. From then on, the A300 family sold well, eventually reaching a total of 878 delivered aircraft.

In December 1977, AeroCóndor Colombia became the first Airbus operator in Latin America, leasing one Airbus A300, named Ciudad de Barranquilla.

The aircraft found particular favor with Asian airlines, being bought by Japan Air System, Korean Air, China Eastern Airlines, Thai Airways International, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, China Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Indian Airlines, Trans Australia Airlines and many others. As Asia did not have restrictions similar to the FAA 60-minutes rule for Twin-engine airliners which existed at the time, Asian airlines used A300s for routes across the Bay of Bengal and South China Sea.

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. In 1982 Garuda Indonesia became the first airline to fly the A300B4-200FF. By 1981, Airbus was growing rapidly, with over 300 aircraft sold and options for 200 more planes for over forty airlines. Alarmed by the success of the A300, Boeing responded with the new Boeing 767.

The A300 provided Airbus the experience of manufacturing and selling airliners competitively. The basic fuselage of the A300 was later stretched (A330 and A340), shortened (A310), or modified into derivatives (A300-600ST Beluga Super Transporter).The largest freight operator of the A300 is FedEx Express, which, as of January 2012, had 71 A300 aircraft in service. UPS Airlines also operates freighter versions of the A300. The final version was the A300-600R and is rated for 180-minute ETOPS. The A300 has enjoyed renewed interest in the secondhand market for conversion to freighters. The freighter versions - either new-build A300-600s or converted ex-passenger A300-600s, A300B2s and B4s - account for most of the world freighter fleet after the Boeing 747 freighter.

In March 2006 Airbus announced the closure of the A300/A310 line making them the first Airbus aircraft to be discontinued. The final production A300 made its initial flight on 18 April 2007 and was delivered on 12 July 2007. It was an A300F freighter for FedEx. Airbus has announced a support package to keep A300s flying commercially until at least 2025.

Variants 2

Specifications and Performance Data (Airbus A300 Family) 2

Airbus A300 Family Specifications
Typical capacity 220 passengers (three-class)
266 passengers (two-class)
375 passengers (one-class)
N/A (cargo)
Cargo capacity+ 22/23 LD3 containers in the lower cargo compartment15 (21) pallets on the main deck + 22/23 LD3 containers
Overall length54.08 m (177.4 ft)
Wingspan44.85 m (147.1 ft)
Wing area260 m² (2,800 ft²)
Overall height16.62 m (54.5 ft)
Max cabin width5.28 m (17.3 ft)
Fuselage diameter5.64 m (18.5 ft)
Operating empty weight typical88,500 kg (195,000 lb) 90,900 kg (200,000 lb)81,900 kg (181,000 lb)
MTOW165,000 kg (360,000 lb)171,700 kg (379,000 lb)170,500 kg (376,000 lb)
Takeoff field length (MTOW, SL, ISA)N/A2,324 m (7,625 ft)
Cruising speedMach 0.78 (833 km/h, 518 mph, 450 knots at 35,000 ft)
Maximum speedMach 0.86Mach 0.82 (876 km/h, 544 mph, 473 knots at 35,000 ft)
Range fully loaded6,670 km (3,600 nmi) 7,540 km (4,070 nmi)4,850 km (2,620 nmi)
Maximum fuel capacity62,900 L (16,600 US gal)68,150 L (18,000 US gal)
EnginesCF6-50C2 or
CF6-80C2 or PW4158
Cockpit crewThreeTwo


Airbus A300 Family Engines
A300B2-1A1974General Electric CF6-50A
A300B2-1C1975General Electric CF6-50C
A300B2K-3C1976General Electric CF6-50CR
A300B4-2C1976General Electric CF6-50C
A300B4-1031979General Electric CF6-50C2
A300B4-1201979Pratt & Whitney JT9D-59A
A300B2-2031980General Electric CF6-50C2
A300B4-2031981General Electric CF6-50C2
A300B4-2201981Pratt & Whitney JT9D-59A
A300B4-6011988General Electric CF6-80C2A1
A300B4-6031988General Electric CF6-80C2A3
A300B4-6201983Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4H1
A300B4-6222003Pratt & Whitney PW4158
A300B4-605R1988General Electric CF6-80C2A5
A300B4-622R1991Pratt & Whitney PW4158
A300F4-605R1994General Electric CF6-80C2A5 or 2A5F
A300F4-622R2000Pratt & Whitney PW4158
A300C4-605R2002General Electric CF6-80C2A5


  1. Shupek, John. Airbus A300 Series, The Skytamer Archive, Copyright © 2007 Skytamer Images. All Rights Reserved
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Airbus A300


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