DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the first Airbus A310 prototype conducted its maiden flight in 1982. It received its type certification on March 11, 1983.
The Airbus A310 is a wide-body aircraft designed and manufactured by Airbus Industrie, at the time a consortium of European aerospace manufacturers. Before the new decade arrived, Airbus had already required a plane that was smaller than the A300, the world’s first twin-jet wide-body.
The British, French, and West German governments’ memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed on September 26, 1967, paved the way for the inception of the 300-seat Airbus A300, the consortium’s first airliner. However, amid plans to reduce production costs, Airbus chose to explore several early design studies performed during the A300 program.
From this, and with the help of other industry players, a forward-looking idea would stay set in the mind of the consortium: to build a family of aircraft for different market needs but with more commonalities than differences.
As a consequence of the increasingly strong interest in the tentative airliner, Airbus decided to launch the A300B10, which became known as the A310, into production on July 7, 1978.
BAe Joins the A310 Program
At the 1978 Farnborough Air Show, Eric Varley, the British Secretary of State for Industry, declared that BAe would rejoin Airbus Industrie as a full partner from January 1, 1979.
Under the terms of the deal, BAe would be given a 20% stake in Airbus Industrie and would play “a complete role in the development and production of the A310.”
Jean Roeder, chief engineer of Deutsche Airbus, speaking of the A310, said, “We showed the world we were not sitting on a nine-day wonder, and that we wanted to realise a family of planes . . . we won over customers we wouldn’t otherwise have won . . . now we had two planes that had a great deal in common as far as systems and cockpits were concerned.”
The Airbus A310 was a twin-engined wide-body jet airliner that flew between medium and long distances. The A300B10 was the initial name for the aircraft, which was a variant of the A300. It was basically a scaled-down version of the earlier aircraft, but there were significant variations between the two.
The fuselage had the same cross-section as the A300, but since it was shorter, it could only accommodate 200 passengers. The rear fuselage was extensively re-designed, with altered tapering and a step aft of the rear bulkhead to improve capacity; the same design modification was later transferred back to later A300 models.
Airbus had originally intended two separate models of the A310: a regional A310-100 and a transcontinental A310-200. The A310-100 had a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kilometers; 2,300 miles) with 200 passengers, while the A310-200 had a higher MTOW and center section fuel, allowing it to bear the same load for an additional 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km; 1,200 mi).
The General Electric CF6-45B2 and Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4 were among the basic engines available for the type. The British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce considered providing an engine for the A310, the Rolls-Royce RB.207, at one point, but eventually decided against it in favor of a smaller three-spool design, the RB.211.
Swissair (LX) and Lufthansa (LH) placed orders for the A310 (then known as the A300B10) on July 7, 1978. The aircraft entered revenue service with LX in April 1983, competing with the Boeing 767-200, which had been launched six months earlier.
Because of its longer range and ETOPS certification, the A310 was able to fly across the Atlantic. There were 255 aircraft delivered until the last delivery in June 1998, when it was replaced by the larger Airbus A330-200.
Major users of this type include Mahan Air (W5), Iran Air (IR), Royal Jordanian (RJ), Ariana Afghan Airlines (FG), and Air Transat (TS).
Featured image: Maiden flight of the Airbus A310, April 3, 1982. Photo: By André Cros – This photograph is part of the Fonds André Cros, preserved by the city archives of Toulouse and released under CC BY-SA 4.0 license by the deliberation n°27.3 of June 23rd, 2017 of the Town Council of the City of Toulouse., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65988816. Article sources: Flight Global, Airbus.