The Airbus A340 and its variants explained

David Baker examined the Airbus A340 in the May 2011 issue of Aviation News

From the outset Airbus envisaged a broad family of airliners, including single-aisle and twin-aisle designs for short, medium and long range routes to match and compete with aircraft designed and built in the United States. As the company evolved so too did the competition on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. When the Airbus A300 appeared in the 1970s, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas were the challenge and when the A310 and A320 aircraft arrived in the 1980s, opinion in Europe was divided regarding the next step to broaden the range.

There had been deep dissent within Europe over derivative variants of the A300 and there had been strong arguments for moving to the twin-aisle market as quickly as possible. Germany in particular was in favour of the four-engine layout and had pressed hard for Airbus to attack the twin­aisle, long range, market robustly and as a priority. Nevertheless, while single-aisle Airbus designs, work still continued in the design shops on the bigger aircraft for high­density routes.

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