5 DECEMBER 2011
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Launched back in the days of cheap fuel (maiden flight 1991), and with Princess Diana as one of its earliest VIP passengers, the Airbus A340, with a total build run of around 375, has finally come to the end of its sales life. Airbus no longer has it on offer.
With four engines and no more than 440 passengers (most are fitted out considerably less), the A340 is not viable in the 21st century no matter how far it will fly non-stop. Its later sibling, virtually the same aircraft as far as the public is concerned, the A330 (first flew 1992, but with two engines), has been a great success, 1,174 ordered to date. Capable of carrying up to 335, it is still selling and likely to be in production until 2015.
The main cause of the demise of the Airbus A340 is the runaway success of the Boeing 777, the ‘Big Twin’ now having sold 1,295 copies and still going strong. The 300ER model, with its nearly 8,000m range and near 747 capacity, is now the biggest seller with 545 orders. It is a full ‘fly by wire’ aircraft. www.airbus.com
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