|An A310, gear and flaps extended, from Air Transat, one of its largest operators|
|Role||Wide-body jet airliner|
|First flight||3 April 1982|
|Introduction||April 1983 with Swissair|
|Status||In limited service|
|Primary users||Mahan Air|
|Developed from||Airbus A300|
|Variants||Airbus A310 MRTT |
Airbus CC-150 Polaris
The Airbus A310 is a medium- to long-range twin-engined wide-body jet airliner that was developed and manufactured by Airbus, then a consortium of European aerospace manufacturers. It was the second airliner to be produced by the company, the first being the A300. The A310 is a smaller derivative of the A300, which held the distinction of being the first twin-engined widebody airliner.
The origin of the A310 lies within design studies originally conducted for the earlier A300 program, specifically the smaller A300B10MC (standing for Minimum Change) design. During the flight testing stage of the A300 program, a number of airlines approached Airbus, expressing that there was also a sizable market for a smaller aircraft, leading to the company commencing studies on producing a separate airliner to produce such an aircraft. The design settled on for the tentative airliner, later designated as the A310, was essentially a fuselage shrink of the A300, furnished with a new wing and a lighter landing gear configuration to suit the smaller scale of the aircraft. It shared a very high level of commonality with the A300, particularly in terms of the cockpit and subsystems. These similarities enabled both aircraft to be manufactured upon the same production line.
On 7 July 1978, Airbus decided to launch the A300B10 program, which it had re-designated as the A310. Initially, the company planned to produce two distinct versions of the A310, these being the regional A310-100 and the transcontinental A310-200, the former being unsuccessful due to lack of demand, with the latter being capable of longer-range flights. On 3 April 1982, the first prototype A310 conducted the type's maiden flight. In April 1983, the A310 entered revenue service with launch customer Swissair. From an operational perspective, the cockpit of the A310 and the A300-600 share such commonality that a dual type rating could be achieved, easing the training of flight crews for both airliners. It was produced between 1983 and 1998, having been effectively succeeded by the Airbus A320, a newer narrow-body aircraft.
On 26 September 1967, the British, French, and West German governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding to commence the joint development of the 300-seat Airbus A300. This collaborative effort resulted in the production of the consortium's first airliner, known as the Airbus A300. The A300 was a wide-body medium-to-long range passenger liner; it holds the distinction of being the first twin-engine wide-body aircraft in the world. The design was relatively revolutionary for its time and featured a number of industry firsts, making the first use of composite materials on a commercial aircraft; during 1977, the A300 became the first ETOPS-compliant aircraft, which was made possible due to its high performance and safety standards. The A300 would be produced in a range of models and sold relatively well to airlines across the world, eventually reaching a total of 816 delivered aircraft during its production life.
During the development of the earlier A300, a range of different aircraft size and capacity were studied by the consortium; the resulting Airbus A300B proposal was one of the smaller options. When the A300B1 prototypes emerged, a number of airlines issued requests for an aircraft with greater capacity, which resulted in the initial production A300B2 version. As the A300 entered service, it became increasingly apparent that there was also a sizable market for a smaller aircraft; some operators did not have enough traffic to justify the relatively large A300, while others wanted more frequency or lower aircraft-mile costs at the expense of higher seat-mile cost (specifically Swissair and Lufthansa). At the same time, there was great pressure for Airbus to validate itself beyond the design and manufacture of a single airliner. In response to these desires, Airbus explored the options for producing a smaller derivative of the A300B2.
Jean Roeder, chief engineer of Deutsche Airbus, speaking of the A310
In order to minimise the associated research & development costs for the tentative project, Airbus chose to examine several early design studies performed during the A300 program. The company ultimately chose to prioritise its focus on one option, which became known as the A300B10MC (standing for Minimum Change). As envisioned, the airliner's capacity was reduced to a maximum of 220 passengers, which was viewed at the time as being a desired capacity amongst many airlines. However, such a design would have resulted in a relatively small fuselage being mated to a comparatively large wing and oversized undercarriage; such an arrangement would have, amongst other things, made the aircraft consume an unnecessarily larger amount of fuel as it carried heavier weight than what was otherwise required.
Another problem for the program was presented in the form of inflation, the rate of which in the United Kingdom (one of the early members of the Airbus consortium) was around 35 per cent during 197980. This factor was responsible for significantly raising the program's development costs and, as a knock-on effect, increase the per-unit cost of the resulting airliner. During the development of the A300, British manufacturer Hawker Siddeley Aviation (HSA) had been appointed as the subcontractor to perform the manufacturing of the wing of the aircraft; shortly afterwards, the British government chose to withdraw from the newly formed venture during 1969. During 1977, HSA subsequently merged with three other British aircraft companies, resulting in the formation of British Aerospace (BAe). By this point, the British government had publicly indicated its intentions to rejoin the Airbus program. During May 1976, the French government entered into a series of discussions on cooperation, during which its representatives stated that the placing of an order by British Airways (BA) was a condition for the re-admission of the United Kingdom into Airbus Industrie as a full partner.
However, both BA and Rolls-Royce had not relinquished their will to collaborate with the Americans in future aircraft endeavours and, in BA's case, procure American aircraft. During the late 1970s, BA sought to purchase two separate types of aircraft in development by American company Boeing, initially known as the 7N7 and 7X7, which would develop into the 757 and 767, the latter of which being an intended rival to the upcoming A310, as well as the existing Boeing 747. Independent of the British government, BAe commenced its own dialogue between itself and American aircraft manufacturers Boeing and McDonnell Douglas for the purpose of assessing if BAe could participate any of their future programs, although the company's chairman, Lord Beswick, publicly stated that the overall aim of the firm was to pursue collaboration in Europe. At the 1978 Farnborough Air Show, Eric Varley, the British Secretary of State for Industry, announced that BAe was to rejoin Airbus Industrie and participate as a full partner from 1 January 1979 onwards. Under the negotiated arrangement, BAe would be allocated a 20 per cent shareholding in Airbus Industrie and would perform "a full part in the development and manufacturing of the A310".
From late 1977, prior to the Varley announcement, BAe had already commenced work on the design of the new wing at its facility in Hatfield. However, due to negotiations with Britain on its return to the Airbus consortium being protracted, alternative options were explored, including potentially manufacturing the wing elsewhere. At the same time as the British efforts, French aerospace firm Aérospatiale, German aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) and Dutch-German joint venture company VFW-Fokker were also conducting their individual studies into possible options for the wing of the prospective airliner.
At the April 1978 Hanover Air Show, Airbus exhibited a model of the proposed A310. Its wing area, at 219.25 m2 (2,360.0 sq ft) was slightly larger than that studied, at 209 m2 (2,250 sq ft); its passenger cabin was 12 frames shorter than the A300,Note 2 accommodating typical passenger loads of 195 in two-class, or 245 in economy. However, during the next 12 months, almost every aspect was further refined. On 9 June 1978, Swissair and Lufthansa developed a joint specification for the aircraft, and within a month, announced that they would place the launch orders. On 15 March, Swissair became the first airline to place a firm order for the type, announcing that it would acquire 10 with a further 10 under option to replace its McDonnell Douglas DC-9s on its major intra-European routes. Lufthansa was quick to place a $240 million 10-aircraft order; additional orders from French operator Air France and Spanish airline Iberia shortly followed.
As a consequence of increasingly strong interest in the tentative airliner, coupled with the recovery of the industry during the late 1970s, contributed to Airbus deciding to launch the A300B10, which was now known as the A310, into production on 7 July 1978. During the latter half of 1978, an order for 10 A300s was placed by independent British airline Laker Airways, satisfying Airbus's demand for the placing of a British order for their aircraft. On 1 April 1979, Lufthansa decided to raise its commitment for the type to 25 orders, along with 25 options. Two days later, Dutch operator KLM signed its order for 10 orders and 10 options at 238 million. On 6 July 1979, Air France announced that it had raised its order from 4 to 35 airliners. Other airlines announcing orders for the A310 during 1979 included Martinair, Sabena and Air Afrique.
Initially, a pair of distinct versions of the A310 had been planned by Airbus; the regional A310-100 and the transcontinental A310-200. The A310-100 featured a range of 2,000 nmi (3,700 km) with 200 passengers, whilst the A310-200 possessed a higher MTOW and centre section fuel, being able to carry the same load a further 1,000 nmi (1,900 km). Basic engines offered for the type included the General Electric CF6-45B2 and Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4. At one point, British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce was openly considering offering an engine for the A310, the Rolls-Royce RB.207, however, it ultimately chose to discard such efforts in favour of a smaller three-spool design, the RB.211.
The range of the A310 exceeds that of the A300 series with the exception of the A300-600R, which in turn surpasses that of the A310-200. The greater range of the A310 contributed to the airliner being used extensively by operators on transatlantic routes. The A300 and A310 introduced the concept of commonality: A300-600 and A310 pilots can cross-qualify for the other aircraft with one day of training.
Sales of the A310 continued through the early 1980s. On 3 April 1982, the prototype A310-200 airliner conducted its maiden flight; by this point, the type had accumulated a combined orders and options for 181 aircraft, which had been placed by 15 airlines worldwide, which had been a relatively superior start than that of the original A300. Over time, it had become clear that the longer-range series 200 aircraft was the more popular of the two models on offer. During 1979, in response to the lack of demand for the A310-100, Airbus decided stop offering the lower gross weight model which had been originally proposed for Lufthansa; as a consequence, none of this variant were ultimately manufactured.
During the early 1990s, demand for the aircraft began to slacken; there were no new A310 passenger orders placed during the late 1990s, in part due to the introduction of the newer and more advanced Airbus A330 during this time. As a result, during June 1998, the last delivery of the A310 was completed. The A310, along with its A300 stablemate, officially ceased production during July 2007, though an order from Iraqi Airways for five A310s had remained on the books until July 2008. The remaining freighter sales were to be instead fulfilled by the new A330-200F derivative.
The A310 has been commonly marketed as an introduction to wide-body operations for airlines based in developing countries. The airliner was replaced in Airbus' lineup by the highly successful A330-200, which shares its fuselage cross-section. Between 1983 and the last aircraft produced in 1998, 255 A310s were delivered. The A300 and A310 established Airbus as a competitor to Boeing and allowed it to go ahead with the more ambitious A320 and A330/A340 families.
The Royal Canadian Air Force currently operates a fleet of 5 Airbus CC-150 Polaris, civilian Airbus A310-300s, originally owned by Wardair, and subsequently Canadian Airlines International, after the airlines merged. The aircraft were then sold to the Canadian Government and have been converted for use as the primary long distance transport aircraft as part of the Royal Canadian Air Force's fleet of Royal Canadian Air Force VIP aircraft.
The Airbus A310 was a medium- to long-range twin-engined wide-body jet airliner. Initially a derivative of the A300, the aircraft had originally been designated the A300B10. It was essentially a shortened variant of the earlier aircraft; however, there were considerable differences between the two aircraft. Specifically, the fuselage possessed the same cross-section but being shorter than the A300, it provided capacity for a typical maximum of 200 passengers. The rear fuselage was heavily re-designed, featuring altered tapering, while involved a move aft of the rear bulkhead to create additional capacity; this same design change was later transferred back to later variants of the A300, such as the A300-600 and A330/A340 fuselages.
The wing of the A310 was redesigned, possessing a reduced span and wing area and incorporating simpler single-slotted Fowler flaps designed by British Aerospace shortly following its decision to join the Airbus consortium. Other changes to the wing included the elimination of the outer ailerons, which were occasionally referred to by the manufacturer as being "low speed ailerons", and the addition of electrically-actuated spoilers. The wing also featured common pylons, which were able to support all types of engines that were offered to customers to power the airliner. From 1985 onwards, later-built production A310s were equipped with wingtip fences for the purpose of reducing lift-induced drag. A limited number of alternations were also performed to the airliner's tail unit, such as the adoption of smaller horizontal tail surfaces.
The A310 was furnished with a two-crew glass cockpit configuration as standard, removing the requirement for a flight engineer; Airbus referred to this concept as the Forward-Facing Crew Cockpit. The company had developed the cockpit to significantly enhance the aircraft's man-machine interface, thereby improving operational safety. It was outfitted with an array of six computer-based CRT displays to provide the flight crew with centralised navigational, warning, monitoring, and general flight information in place of the more traditional analogue instrumentation and dials, which were used in conjunction with a range of modern electronic systems. The same flight deck had been incorporated into the A300-600, a move which increased commonality between the two types and enabled a dual type rating to be achieved, this same approach was later used on many future Airbus aircraft. In addition to the two flying crew, provisions for third and fourth crew seats were present upon the flight deck.
The A310 was initially launched with a choice of three engines the General Electric CF6-80A (originally the CF6-45B2), the Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4D1 and the Rolls-Royce RB211-524B4. The specific Rolls-Royce RB211-524B4 engine intended for this initial application was not developed. General Electric powered A310-200s were originally offered with the CF6-80A3 (A310-203), but with the introduction of the A310-300, the CF6-80C2 became available for both variants. The initial offering was for the 53,000 pounds-force (240 kN) CF6-80C2A2 (A310-204/A310-304) engine and later on the higher thrust 59,000 pounds-force (260 kN) 80C2A8 (A310-308). Similarly Pratt & Whitney powered A310s were first offered with versions of the JT9D engines (both 22s and 300s) but when the PW4000 powered A310 became available in 1987, the aircraft was offered with the 52,000 pounds-force (230 kN) PW4152 (A310-324). From April 1992 the higher thrust PW4156A 56,000 pounds-force (250 kN) was offered for the A310 (A310-325), with the PW4158A 58,000 pounds-force (260 kN) /-326 becoming available from 1996.
The A310 was equipped with a modified undercarriage, derived from the A300; the landing gear were outfitted with carbon brakes, which were fitted as standard. The structure of the airliner featured a high level of composite materials throughout both primary and secondary structures, increased beyond that of the earlier A300. The A310 is outfitted with integrated drive electrical generators along with auxiliary power unit, which were improved versions of those used on the A300.
The A310 is available in two basic versions, the medium range 200 and the longer range 300. The first version of the aircraft to be developed was the 200 but this was later joined by the 300 which then became the standard production version of the aircraft. The short range -100 variant was never developed due to low demand.
As of 2019, a small number of commercial airlines continue to use the A310:
The A310 has been used by the armed forces of the following countries:
By the end of production, a total of 255 A310s had been ordered and delivered.
As of September 2015 there have been 12 hull-loss accidents involving A310s with a total of 825 fatalities; and 9 hijackings with a total of five fatalities.
|2-class||220 passengers (20F + 200Y)|
|1-class||237Y 8-abreast||243Y 8-abreast / 265Y 9-abreast|
|Exit limit||275 passengers|
|Lower deck||14 LD3 containers|
|Length||46.66 m (153 ft 1 in)|
|Height||15.8 m (51 ft 10 in) fuselage|
|Wing||43.9 m (144 ft) span, 219 m2 (2,360 sq ft) area, 28 ° sweep|
|Cross section||5.64 m (18 ft 6 in)|
|Maximum Payload||32,834 kg (72,387 lb)||37,293 kg (82,217 lb)|
|MTOW||144,000 kg (317,466 lb)||164,000 kg (361,558 lb)|
|OEW||JT9D: 77.4 t (171,000 lb), PW4000/CF6-80: 79.2 t (175,000 lb)|
|Max fuel||47,940 kg / 105 689 lb|
|Engines||JT9D-7R4 / GE CF6-80||JT9D-7R4E1 / PW4000 / CF6-80C2|
|Thrust (×2)||203.8257.4 kN (45,80057,900 lbf)|
|speed||Mach 0.8 (459 kn; 850 km/h) cruise, Mach 0.84 (482 kn; 892 km/h) MMO|
|Ceiling||41,100 ft (12,527 m)|
|Range||3,500 nmi (6,500 km) [a]||5,150 nmi (9,540 km) [b]|
|A310-203||11 March 1983||GE CF6-80A3|
|A310-203C||27 November 1984||GE CF6-80A3|
|A310-204||23 April 1986||GE CF6-80C2A2|
|A310-221||11 March 1983||PW JT9D-7R4D1|
|A310-222||22 September 1983||PW JT9D-7R4E1|
|A310-304||11 March 1986||GE CF6-80C2A2|
|A310-308||5 June 1991||GE CF6-80C2A8/A2|
|A310-322||5 December 1985||PW JT9D-7R4E1|
|A310-324||27 May 1987||PW4152|
|A310-325||6 March 1992||PW4156A|
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Media related to Airbus A310 at Wikimedia Commons