A300, A310 Will Go Out Of Production In July 2007
They're the airliners that started it all for Airbus... and
soon, they'll be no more.
Airbus announced Tuesday that the end of the line is near for
its inaugural A300 and A310 widebodies. That end will come in July
2007, when the last A300-600 freighter on the books is delivered to
"It is in Airbus' best business interest to optimize the use of
its resources at this time," said Airbus CEO Gustav Humbert. "We
are implementing a major production ramp-up across our business as
the A300/A310 program nears completion. This is in response to
growing demand from our customers for the newer Airbus products
like the A321, the A330/A340 family and the new A350 aircraft, that
cover or even go beyond the market segment of our original aircraft
During the last two years, around 150 Airbus employees produced
about one aircraft a month on the A300/A310 final assembly line.
Airbus says no one will lose work because of the shutdown; all
employees involved in the A300/A310 production will be offered new
positions in other current or future programs.
The A300 (above, and
right), launched in May 1969 and entering service with Air France
in May 1974, was the very first widebody twin ever brought to the
market. The A310, launched in July 1978 and entering service in
April 1983 with Lufthansa and Swissair, also set new standards with
the first two-man cockpit on a widebody.
"The A300/A310 program launched the Airbus success story and
with a total of 821 orders it has surpassed all commercial
expectations," said Humbert. "The spirit behind the A300/310
continues into the 21st century, most recently with the A380 and
the A350 programs."
The series pioneered several technologies common throughout the
business today... most notably the use of digital avionics and CRT
Perhaps a more dubious distinction -- but still a significant
achievement -- the A300 and A310 also popularized the use of
composite vertical stabilizer assemblies on commercial
While many suspected that the failure of such
an assembly led to the tragic downing of American Airlines
Flight 587 -- an A300 -- in 2001, the NTSB later determined
that forces placed on the rudder and vertical stabilizer by the
desperate pilots exceeded the aircraft's design limitations -- no
fault of Airbus's. That decision didn't sit well with many,
though -- including New York Senator Charles
Schumer, who called for the NTSB to reopen its investigation into
Flight 587 last April.
In May 2005, the rudder of an Air Transat A310
separated while en route from Cuba to Canada. Although
little of the rudder panel remained (below) crews were able to
land the aircraft safely back in Cuba.
The FAA subsequently ordered mandatory inspections on all A300s
and A310s in service with American carriers -- most of them with
FedEx and American.