Regulatory Changes, Economy Kill Airbus A340
Production of the Airbus A340 four-engine commercial jetliner has ended, making it Airbus' shortest-lived production model. The aircraft entered service in 1993, but soon began losing favor with carriers due to the economic factors associated with feeding fuel to and maintaining four engines. Demand for the A340 also took a major hit with the expansion of extended operations or ETOPS. As regulators increased the amount of time twin-engine aircraft were allowed to fly away from suitable landing sites under more lenient ETOPS regulations, four-engine aircraft lost a key competitive edge. And, Thursday, Airbus confirmed that it had sold zero A340s over the past two years. Meanwhile, some twin-engine jets from competing manufactures have done quite well.
Boeing's 777 earned more than 130 orders in the first 10 months of 2011. The Boeing earned Extended Operations certification after passing tests that included eight three-hour, single-engine test flights. While Airbus also produces successful twins, it shares that market to some extent with the successful Boeing. The 777 entered service on June 7, 1995, and like the A340 before it now faces competition from a younger design -- particularly from its sibling the 787. That aircraft again challenges the aircraft before it by offering increases in efficiency. However, Boeing, Boeing is increasing production of the 777 ... for now.