The Airbus A340 is a long-range four-engine wide-body commercial passenger jet airliner. It was developed and produced by Airbus,[Nb 1] a consortium of European aerospace companies, which is a subsidiary of Airbus Group (which was previously known as EADS). The A340 was assembled at 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 between 6,700 to 9,000 nautical miles (12,400 to 16,700 km). It is similar in design to the twin-engined A330 with which it was concurrently designed. Its distinguishing features are four high-bypass turbofan engines and three-bogie main landing gear.
Airbus manufactured the A340 in four fuselage lengths. The initial variant, A340-300, which entered service in 1993, measured 59.39 metres (194.8 ft). The shorter -200 was developed next, and the A340-600 was a 15.91 metres (52.2 ft) stretch of the -200. The -600 was developed alongside the shorter A340-500, which would become the longest-ranged commercial airliner until the arrival of the Boeing 777-200LR. The two initial models were powered by the CFM56-5C, rated at 151 kilonewtons (34,000 lbf), while Rolls-Royce held exclusive powerplant rights to the extended-ranged and heavier -500 and -600 models, through the 267-kilonewton (60,000 lbf) Rolls-Royce Trent 500. The initial A340-200 and -300 variants share the fuselage and wing of the A330, while the -500 and -600 are longer and have larger wings.
Launch customers Lufthansa and Air France placed the A340 into service in March 1993. As of September 2011, 379 orders had been placed (not including private operators), of which 375 were delivered. The most common type were the A340-300 model, with 218 aircraft delivered. Lufthansa is the biggest operator of the A340, having acquired 59 aircraft. The A340 is used on long-haul, trans-oceanic routes due to its immunity from ETOPS; however, with reliability and fuel efficiency in engines improving, airlines are starting to phase out the type in favour of more economical twinjets, such as the A330 and theBoeing 777. Airbus announced on 10 November 2011 that A340 production had been concluded. The A340 is to be succeeded by larger variants of the Airbus A350.
The first variant of the A340 to be introduced, the A340-200, entered service with the launch customer, Lufthansa, in 1993. It was followed shortly thereafter by the A340-300 with its operator, Air France. Lufthansa’s first A340, which had been dubbed Nürnberg (D-AIBA), began revenue service on 15 March 1993. Air Lanka (later renamed Sri Lankan Airlines) became the Asian launch customer of the Airbus A340, the airline received its first A340-300, registered (4R-ADA), in September 1994. British airline Virgin Atlantic was an early adopter of the A340; in addition to operating several A340-300 aircraft, in August 1997, Virgin announced that it was to be the worldwide launch customer for the new A340-600. The first commercial flight of the A340-600 was performed by Virgin in July 2002.
Singapore Airlines ordered 17 A340-300s and operated them until October 2003. The A340-300s were purchased by Boeing as part of an order for Boeing 777s. The airline then purchased five long-range A340-500s, which joined the fleet in December 2003. In February 2004, the airline’s A340-500 performed the longest non-stop commercial air service in the world, conducting a non-stop flight between Singapore and Los Angeles. In 2007, Singapore Airlines launched an even longer non-stop route using the A340-500 between Newarkand Singapore, SQ 21, a 15,344 kilometres (8,285 nmi) journey that was the longest scheduled non-stop commercial flight in the world. The airline continued to operate this route regularly until the airline decided to retire the type in favour of new A380 and A350 aircraft; its last A340 flight was performed in late 2013.
The A340 was typically used by airlines as a medium-sized long-haul aircraft, and was often a replacement for older Boeing 747s as it was more likely profitable. Airbus produced a number of A340s as large private jets for VIP customers, often to replace aging Boeing 747s in this same role. In 2008, Airbus launched a dedicated corporate jetliner version of the A340-200, one key selling point of this aircraft was a range of up to 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km).; Airbus had built up to nine different customized versions of the A340 to private customer’s specific demands prior to 2008.