Airbus A300 News
Airbus initiative becomes 50 years old
- 29 May 2019 -
On 29 May 1969, today 50 years ago, the Airbus A300B project was officially launched at the Paris Air Show 1969 by the signing of an agreement between the French transport minister Jean Chamant and his German economics colleague Karl Schiller. This led in December 1970 to the formation of the Airbus Industrie consortium, now simply named 'Airbus'. The intention was to build a small widebody aircraft smaller, lighter and with lower operating costs than the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. The A300 became the world's first twin-engine widebody airliner.
The agreement was the result of intensive studies and discussions since 1965. At that time, there were a lot of aircraft manufacturers in Europe, but in this fragmented environment it was difficult for any individual company to effectively compete with American airliners, particularly on the emerging market of expensive widebodies. There was only one solution: cooperation.
In Germany, MBB, VFW and Dornier formed Deutsche Airbus and in France Nord Aviation and Sud Aviation merged into Aérospatiale. Deutsche Airbus and Aérospatiale formed Airbus Industrie, and soon Fokker-VFW and CASA joined. Hawker Siddeley became responsible for the development and production of the wing. A milestone was the first order, from Air France, for six aircraft plus ten options. A letter of intent was signed in September 1970, followed by the firm order in November 1971. The first A300B1 flew in October 1972 and first delivery of an A300B2 production model to Air France took place in May 1974. The Airbus widebody had a slow start commercially, but in the end 561 A300s were built, not far short of the combined production of the TriStar and DC-10 (250+386=636, excluding 60 KC-10 tankers).
The A300 marked the beginning of a serious contender on the world airliner market. It was followed by the A310, the A320 Family, the A330/A340, the A380 and the A350. There were some (commercial) failures, like the A318, the A340-500/600 and the A380, but the A320 Family, the A330 and the A350 proved highly succesfull. (Photos below: Airbus)
You read all about the A300 here.