In 1986, Airbus took a further leap with another new program, the A-330/340. This took shape as a single airplane that could accommodate either two or four engines. The A-330 was the twinjet version; it was larger than the A-300 and the Boeing 767. The A-340 was the four-engine version. Built for long range, it served transoceanic routes that covered world-spanning distances but attracted too few travelers.
The A340 Family spans 295-380 seats and delivers a unique combination of superior passenger comfort, economy and operational flexibility. The Family complements the A330 in extending market coverage to longer routes. A340 models are particularly well suited to operation in challenging high-temperature and high-altitude conditions.
The A340-300E typically carries 295 passengers in three classes up to 13,700km/7,400nm. The 380 seat A340-600 flies up to 14,640km/7,900nm while the ultra-long range, 313-seat, A340-500 can fly 16,600km/9,000nm, and operates over the longest non-stop routes in the world. Deliveries of the latest, 380 ton takeoff weight, versions started with an A340-600 for Qatar Airways in summer 2006 followed by an A340-500 for Thai International in April 2007. They are equipped with the latest development of the Rolls-Royce Trent 500 engines.
Only the A380 has a quieter cabin than the A340 Family. A340 passengers can enjoy travelling in one of the most comfortable cabins in service. Business Class has typically either aisle or window seats and Economy Class at eight-abreast ensures a higher percentage of these preferred seats. Airlines have the ability to customise the light, bright cabin to suit their markets using innovative options such as illumination systems that realistically simulate sunset or sunrise.
Along with excellent passenger comfort the A340 Family also offers tremendous operating efficiency, further enhanced by the ability to generate substantial cargo revenues. A340-600 customers have the option to install lower-deck toilets, galleys and crew rest facilities freeing up additional revenue-generating space for seats on the main deck.
The A340-500 and -600 maintain Airbus's leadership in lowering operating costs due to technology and innovation via use of advanced aerodynamics, materials and systems. Further aerodynamic improvement is being introduced to counter the effects of rising fuel prices. The A340-300E also benefits from reduced engine maintenance cost, improved fuel efficiency from its environmentally friendly CFM56-5C4/P engines that satisfy current and future noise and emission standards.
All A340 customers can benefit from operational commonality with other Airbus models to reduce training time and costs for pilots and engineers. The four-engine configuration allows operational planning using shortened routes over the vast expanses of inhospitable areas such as mountains, deserts and Polar Regions.
The A340-500 is in service with TAM, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. It is the world's longest-range aircraft and flies the world's longest non-stop air routes, such as Singapore to Los Angeles. As of the end of 2008 almost 900 A330/A340 Family aircraft are in operation with 90 operators and there were more than 400 aircraft in Airbus' substantial backlog of orders.
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