The A340 has developed more and more as an alternative for Boeing 747. The Airbus A340 was presented on Paris Aerosalon in 1987 for the first time, together with its sister model A330. The A340 differs from the A330 by its engines (four instead of two) and by an additional tank in the middle of the fuselage which makes possible higher range. The first flight of the A340 was on October 25th 1991, Launching Customer was Lufthansa in March 1993.
The basis version is the A340-300 with space for an average of 295 passengers and 13350km range. The A340 got much mockery at the beginning, as it is undermotorized for lack of efficient engines and flies very sluggish. The short front gear, which makes the aircraft sink to the front on the ground, looks a bit stunted, too.
According to the version -300, the about 4 metres shortened version -200 with space for an average of 263 passengers and higher range is available. The A340-8000 is an again in its range improved -200 with additional tank in the back.
The A340 has a modern glass flight deck and a Fly by Wire piloting. Like the A330, it has very long wings and winglets. As a result of its range and capacity the A340 is a very tough competitor of the Boeing 747 Many airlines buy the A340 for routes which need an aircraft with less capacity Many airlines replace their old 747-100 and -200 with A340, too.
In December 1997 Airbus Industrie presented the versions A340-500 and A340-600. In this airliners are new Rolls-Royce engines used, the wings are stretched and the flight deck is slightly modified. Version -500 is range-optimized and able to fly 15000km non-stop, that is a distance from Los Angeles to Singapore. As no crew is able to work all the time on this distance, special rest rooms for the crew are available in the lower fuselage section below the passenger cabin. The A340-600 is a heavily stretched version with seats for over 400 passengers and more stowage than in a Boeing 747-400. As it is about one and a half metres longer than the Boeing 777-300, it's the longest aircraft of the world and even onger than the A380. Rollout of the A340-600 was on March 23rd 2001 in Toulouse, launching customer is Virgin Atlantic.