Max Q wrote:A big ‘selling point’ for the A310 that turned out to be moot was its fuselage
diameter which allowed LD3 containers
to be carried side by side
This was thought to be a big advantage for
airlines operating DC10/ L1011 and B747
aircraft as it would allow the convenience
of interlining these containers between fleets
For some European airlines this may
have been a factor and a real advantage
But it wasn’t a consideration on the other
side of the Atlantic, in fact the narrower
fuselage of the 767 (and bigger wing)
significantly lowered drag and improved its
aerodynamics so much that it just blew
away the A310 on range and of course, sales
I am rather tired of this 767 blew the A310 away in sales. The 767 did not. The A310 competed with the 767-200/200ER and the 767-300 competed with the A300 and later with the A330.
At that time Airbus did not denote a different size of the same family with a dash -100 -200 and so on, but with a different A3xx number, as we still see in the A320 family. The dash than denoted a change to the frame of the same size.
The A310 is a shrink of the A300B1, B2, B4, done on the request of several airlines and perhaps to match the than introduced 767-200 in size. With a smaller wing that was never designed to carry a frame of the size of the A300 or 767-300. It had also a lighter landing gear. The rear fuselage was redesigned. Two men cockpit was introduced.
A little bit later a new version of the A300 was introduced, the A300-600. With a lot of the changes that had been introduced by the A310 including the two men cockpit. Same type rating as the A310 by the FAA.
Both the A310 and the A300 were overall lighter frames than the corresponding 767, not designed for increased range, but well designed for the MoM role, that is talked so much about today. To match the 767-300ER (later also 767-400ER) in range and capabilities, the A330 was introduced and we all know how that competition ended.
So if one talks about sales, A300 B versions, about 250 frames, A310 255 frames and A300-600 about 310 frames. That makes all together 816 frames sold. Not to bad for the first try of a twin wide body airliner.
The A300/310 is a far earlier design (EIS 1974) than the 767 (EIS 1982) and therefore perhaps not strange that it was earlier replaced. On the high end by the A330, on the low end by the A321. At that time Airbus also did convert to FBW.
In regards to the fuselage design, used unchanged on the A300/310 and A330/340, that has been sold now in nearly 3000 frames and delivered in 2620. Find a wide body fuselage design that holds better up against the test of time.