The Airbus A300 series of passenger jet airliner was developed by the French concern as a wide-body passenger hauler for medium-range markets. First flight was on October 28th, 1972 and the series was first introduced through carrier Air France on May 30th, 1974. The aircraft went on to see adoption by the likes of FedEx, UPS and others during its long, storied career. To date (2014), some 561 air frames have been completed. The A300 also forms the basis of the A310 and A300-600ST "Beluga" and went on to influence the A330 and A340 designs that followed.
The A300-600 and A310 share a high percentage of commonality in terms of air frame design and construction (decreasing maintenance and repair costs somewhat), with the A300 maintaining the wider cross section - a full 222 inches - and is touted by the Airbus corporation as the widest cross-section in the world for a passenger aircraft of this size. All Airbus aircraft cockpit systems are designed approximately the same, allowing for one Airbus pilot to easily transfer his / her skills over to a newer or differing base model. This is equal to the ground crew engineers as well, being able to work on one platform of Airbus models and easily translating those skills and techniques to another.
The Airbus A300 is categorized as a "widebody" commercial airliner and is a lengthened-fuselage version of its A310 counterpart in the A300 family line. The A300 is utilized by upwards of 80 transit companies worldwide and maintains a competitive standing in the commercial airliner market against the likes of America's Boeing Company. In all, the A300 series has seen orders and sales of units top 800 with nearly 650 of those already, and still, in operational service as commercial transit passenger airliners or freight cargo airliners.
The cockpit of A300 aircraft offer up a modernized approach to jetliner flight. The two-member crew that was introduced with the A300 series has now become an industry standard arrangement. The cockpit is dominated by no fewer than six CRT displays that provide real-time and crucial systems monitoring and work together to decrease pilot workload overall. The cockpit can also be fitted with a communications system that allows the crew to verify with corresponding ground engineers on needed maintenance issues. An "autoland" capability is also integrated in the cockpit programming to assist crews in bad-weather landings.
Airbus plans to maintain support for A300 systems through 2049 with a series of modernization programs, upgrades and retrofit kits that should keep the system afloat and competitive in the lucrative commercial airliner market. Freight models are maintained by such high profile clients as FedEx, UPS, TNT and Channel Express.
A300B1 - Prototype Models; later prototypes has their fuselage lengthened.
A300B2-100 - Base Production Model fitted with 2 x General Electric CF6-50 turbofans.
A300B2-200 - Integrated leading edge flaps installed.
A300B2-220 - Fitted with 2 x Pratt & Whitney JT9D-59A turbofans.
A300B2-300 - Increased MTOW; reinforced airframe.
A300B4-100 - Fitted with CF6 or JT91 powerplants as a long-range passenger version.
A300B4-200 - Increased MTOW; reinforced airframe.
A300B4-200FF - Cockpit crew reduced to two.
A300C4 - Based on the A300B4 model as a conversion transport / air freighter.
A300F4 - Based on the A300B4 model as a true air freighter production model.
A300F4-600R - Cargo Freight Aircraft Model fitted with specialized loading system for cargo loading / unloading.
A300-600 - Full Commercial Model Designation
A300R-600 - Based on the A300-600 as an extended-range (use of "R" in designation) variant.
A300C-600 - Based on the A300-600 as a converted air freighter variant ("C" in designation).
A300F-600 - Based on the A300-600 as a true air freight model ("F" in designation).
A300-600ST "Beluga" - Super Transport (ST) Heavy-Lift Cargo Handler Model.
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