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Airbus A310

The A300-600 and A310 share the same basic airframe, and were the first jetliners with Airbus' 222-inch fuselage cross-section - the widest of any aircraft in their size category. The A300 entered revenue service first, followed by the shorter-fuselage A310. Both have a Common Type Rating for flight crews, allowing pilots qualified on one type to qualify to fly the other with a simple difference training. This commonality also applies to the engineers who maintain the aircraft - enabling pilots and engineers to use the same training simulator systems and training aids.

The same choice of engines is available for the A300-600 and A310: the General Electric CF6-80C2 and Pratt & Whitney's PW4000. Each engine is offered at power ratings best suited to the particular version's design weights. With both powerplants, the A300-600 and A310 are fully certified for up to 180 minutes extended-range twin-engine operations (ETOPS), which permits their use on routes over water and across remote regions of the globe.

The commonality of the A300/A310 Family leads to maintenance cost savings for operators because both aircraft types use many of the same spares. The A300-600 and A310 share systems, engines, flight decks, cabin interiors and major structural items resulting in lower combined spares and maintenance costs.

The A310 has lower operating weights and requires lower thrust levels than competing aircraft. As a result, the A310's direct operating costs per seat are up to 10 per cent lower. The optimised 222-inch fuselage cross-section used for both the A300 and A310 allows significant amounts of revenue-generating freight to be carried in the lower deck holds, including freight pallets and industry-standard LD3 containers.

A voluminous main deck allows up to 16 main large pallets to be accommodated on the A310 freighter. The A310's spacious lower-deck cargo holds accept the full range of existing underfloor freight containers and pallets - including the industry-standard LD3 containers loaded in an efficient side-by-side arrangement.

The worldwide success enjoyed by the A310 is the result of many factors, including the innovative 222-inch Airbus fuselage cross-section - which gives passengers a more spacious, comfortable cabin on a genuine twin-aisle widebody jetliner. Every First and Business class passenger aboard the A310 has either a window or aisle seat, while the comfortable eight-abreast Economy class cabin offers more space than any competing aircraft - with no passenger further than one seat away from an aisle.

In cockpit technology, Airbus has become a leader as the result of innovations introduced first on the A300/A310 Family. The A310 featured the first cockpit ever certificated for a two-member flight crew on a large airliner, using six cathode ray tube (CRT) displays on the instrument panel to replace traditional dial-type instruments. Electrical signaling also was used initially on the A310 for secondary flight control surfaces, preparing the way for Airbus' subsequent application of digital fly-by-wire controls on the A320, A340 and A380 Family aircraft.

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.

The A310 also marked another step in Airbus' pioneering efforts to advance the technology of cockpits and significantly enhance the man-machine interface - thereby improving operational safety. Beginning with the A300, Airbus improved the cockpit layout, allowing a two-pilot flight crew to operate the aircraft without the need for a flight engineer. The new concept, called the Forward-Facing Crew Cockpit, went into service on an A300B4-220 delivered to Garuda Indonesia airlines in 1982, and it heralded a new era in flight decks which was to be followed by all other large aircraft manufacturers worldwide. Airbus took the next step in cockpit development on the A310, introducing electronic flight instrument displays that replaced many of the traditional analogue dials on the main instrument panel. This A310 "glass cockpit" used six computer-driven cathode ray tube displays to provide the captain and co-pilot with centralised flight and navigation information as well as monitoring and warning data. The glass cockpit subsequently was incorporated on the A300 as well, providing commonality between the two aircraft - an approach that was to be further developed on the other Airbus aircraft that followed.

The A310 marked the beginning of the "Airbus family" development and, with its lighter weight and fuel efficiency, helped attract new customers. Jean Roeder, chief engineer of Deutsche Airbus, said: "We showed the world we were not sitting on a nine-day wonder, and that we wanted to realise a family of planes.we won over customers we wouldn't otherwise have won. The A310 supplied us with the starting point for the A300-600 we would never have had without it..What the A310 gave us was new systems technology, the efficiency and the productivity of the 'glass cockpit'...now we had two planes that had a great deal in common as far as systems and cockpits were concerned."

The A310 also marked Britain's return to Airbus as a full partner. A new, smaller wing than that produced for the A300 had to be designed. Hawker Siddeley had by now been incorporated into British Aerospace, and as the British dragged their feet about commitment to the project there was talk of the A310 wing being produced elsewhere. Eventually the British government put up a reported 50 million in a repayable loan towards development costs and from January, 1979, British Aerospace took a 20 per cent stake in Airbus Industrie, roughly equivalent to the work it would gain from being part of the consortium. France and Germany's shares went down to 37.9 per cent each, with the rest held by CASA of Spain.






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