Why Both The A330 And A340?

Thu Dec 09, 1999 8:42 am

One thing that strikes me about Airbus is the similarity between the aircraft, at least on the interior. Each model seems to have its own character from the outside well enough but inside its always the same old 2-4-2 interior pioneered on the A300 almost 30 years ago. Don't get me wrong, they have some beautiful aircraft these days and this is just a nagging observation of my own.

My real question is: Why did Airbus build BOTH the A330 and the A340? Admittedly, my knowledge of this topic is basic at best so please bear with me.

Having flown both planes, it seems as though the A330 is simply a carbon copy of the A340 with slightly higher capacity...depending of course on which variant we are talking about (332/333 and/or 342/343). A visit to the Airbus website seemed to confirm this....the two planes share an identical wing and a quick look at the specs shows that the 330 is some 16ft longer than the A340-200. The 330 appears to have the exact same specifications as the 343. So why build both??

I would venture that the A340 provides the platform on which to build the A340-500 and A340-600 in the years to come, a platform that cannot be handled by a twin but I could be wrong. I welcome any comments any of you experts can share.

Also, what prevented Airbus from building a massive sized twin to compete head to head with the B777? It seems they are flouting the A340 as its longer range, four-engined competition especially with all the talk about ETOPS over the Pacific of late. It seems they have lost a lot of potential customers to Boeing. If the A330 came out in 1995 then why did it take so long for the airlines to start buying them in droves??

Just for fun, let me throw in my opinion that Airbus is disgraceful for its ETOPS comments saying that 207 minute twin ops are unreliable. This is not motivated by passenger concern but by a desire to sell their the 345 and 346 to Cathay and SIA instead of the 777X or whatever else. But they are a business so what else should they do I suppose?

User avatar
Posts: 254
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:04 am

RE: Why Both The A330 And A340?

Thu Dec 09, 1999 9:01 am

In short, Airbus designed the A330/340 because at the time it was the only way to provide a family of 300-seat airplanes capable of flying 1,000-7,000nm ranges. The A330/340 go back to the days of the TA 9 (twin) and TA 11 (quad) airplanes, which were substantial developments of the A300. It was only in the mid-1980s that Airbus decided to make the two new types common types. Very late in pre-development the A340-300 and A330-300 fuselages actually became the same length, whereas the A330 had usually been a few frames shorter.

Some suggest that it was too much for Airbus designers to break with the tradition of the TA 9 and TA 11 blue prints. Besides, the consortium did its homework and found that at a range of about 5,500nm a quad DID become cheaper to operate than a twin. However, Airbus based this ascertation on the bypass and pressure ratios of a jet turbine comparable to that of those found on the Boeing 767. However, Boeing also did their homework, and found that the new larger engines for the 777 could have much higher bypass and pressure ratios, meaning increased efficiencies, and basically Airbus' old 5,500nm report is now irrelevant.

Also, in 1987 when the A330/340 was launched the big engine manufacturers weren't technologically ready for a massive leap in engine power. Actually, development of A330 engines helped Boeing convince them to go "the big one" and develop 777 powerplants. Don't forget that the 777 was launched more that 3 years after the A330/340.

Having spoken to several engineers involved with the A330/340 project, each has admitted that if they could have designed a twin A340, they would have. But I stress here that this does not make the A340 an inefficient airplane. It is a 747-400 killer - so is the 777-200ER.

With regards to ETOPS, Airbus is not against 207 minutes ETOPS, but is against ad hoc ETOPS planning. Boeing agrees - the ETOPS regulation - FAA AC 120-42A - is outdated and need to be upgraded. Of course, Airbus has an advantage in delaying 207 minutes ETOPS as long as possible and good luck to them. It is not an unfair tactic, and if we have safer regulations as a result I say bring it on! Airbus is very clever in that they have not said the ETOPS is unreliable. The A340-500/600 are being designed and constructed to ETOPS standards.

I might add, too, that when we are talking about multi-billion dollar widebody airplane deals, why wouldn't you try to give yourself an advantage? It's as American as capitalism.  

Posts: 983
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 8:28 am

RE: Why Both The A330 And A340?

Thu Dec 09, 1999 9:05 am

As your first coment was in regard to why Airbus built the A330 and A340 I will naswer it, but I will refrain from passing judgement on your last comment due to my desire not to be caught up in this stupid game between Airbus and Boeing fans.
Airbus very simply designed the two aircraft for different routes. In the 70's and 80's while MD and Boeing were still slugging it out and not paying much attention to Airbus, Airbus were conducting experiments on aircraft and wing designs V's distances. Some thing they found was that due to the various flexing elements of the wings of twin engined aircraft V's four engined aircraft, twins were best suited to routes of 5,000 miles or less, and four engine aircraft for routes over 5,000 miles. Thus the A330 was designed as a med to long range airliner, while the A340 was designed as a very long rang airliner. Both share a lot of common features, for both easy of manufacture, and ease of maintainence by the airline. Don't forget you most hold spares of bits of the aircraft, and the more types you fly, the more spares you must carry in stock=cost. Thus by flying both the A330/A340, you can in most cases only stock one item which fits the two aircraft. Also cockpit and aircradt similailties allow airlines such as CX to train pilots on both types. The cost savings are enormous to airlines if pilots are cross-trained on several aircraft.
Thus this was a quick explanation of why the aircraft look the same, but why there are twin and four engined versions.
Aircraft I've flown: A300/A310/A320/A321/A330/A340/B727/B732/B733/B734/B735/B738/B741/B742/B744/DC10/MD80/IL62/Bae146/AR

RE: Why Both The A330 And A340?

Thu Dec 09, 1999 9:11 am

I think that the A330 is for long-haul and the A340 is for ultra-longhaul routes.The part about selling the 345/46 to our friends at CX and SQ,is very impossible.SQ is already getting their 777IGW's,and they have an order of 5 A345's with 188 seats.(Now you know where they are going).And I firmly believe Boeing will introduce the 777x before the A345/46 first flight.Anyway if SQ orders the 777x,They will have 300+ seats(unless SQ configures them to 188 seats)capable SIN-LAX in 19 hrs.But if the 747x is out,most likely SQ will order to replace their 744's and the 744x could do SI-LAX in 15 hrs,same as SIN-NRT-LAX on a 744.

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year!!

P.S.My,this post is long,isn't it??

RE: Why Both The A330 And A340?

Thu Dec 09, 1999 9:22 am

Welcome back Gundu.

I don't know why you think I am such a patriotic apple pie eating American. I am one but have lived outside the US for most of my life so I have something of a better perspective I feel.

Believe me I think American capitalism and "democracy" are a fantastic joke played out before the eyes of 270 million willing participants.

THANKS for all the great does seem to me that since the A330 and A340 are almost identical aircraft that something must have happened in the planning stages. As to them being designed for different there any truth to the Airbus contention that the A340 is also ideal for short hops as well??

Seeing as how they have the same wing it shouldn't make that much difference but who am I to say?

Posts: 11904
Joined: Thu May 27, 1999 3:30 am

Speed Of 777x And 747x

Thu Dec 09, 1999 9:23 am

Hey, where did you come up with 19 hours for 777x and 15 for 747x on SIN-LAX? I know the 777 is slower than the 747 currently, but I would assume that the 747x would get a new more efficient wing (slower wing) and would slow down to 777 speeds. But 19 hours? That's barely 450 mph. Seems awfully slow.
Posts: 633
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 1999 12:27 am

RE: Why Both The A330 And A340?

Thu Dec 09, 1999 7:07 pm

Some people or airlines feel more confident to fly in a 4 engines plane for long routes simply because with more backups, the 4 engined plane seems safer.

In my opinion, Airbus' comment on the 207min etops is not disgraceful when compared to boeing.Boeing even offered to buy airbuses of some airlines in order that the airline buy 777s, such as boeing offered to buy SIA's 340-300 so that they won't buy 340-500s but instead go for a lot of long range 777's.This is the same for China Eastern. This, is what I think is disgraceful.

Who is online

Popular Searches On

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos