After requests for a smaller variant of the Airbus A300B initiated by Lufthansa and Swissair, Airbus started development of the A300B10 in Summer 1978: with a shortened fuselage (by 7 m), redesigned wings with a smaller area and EFIS-cockpit for a crew of two pilots. The A310 first was planned with a capacity of 210 passengers, which was later later increased up to 280 seats.
On April 3, 1982 the first A310 (F-WZLH / HB-IPE, MSN 162) made its maiden flight at the Airbus plant in Toulouse. Together with the first A310 build for Lufthansa (F-WZLJ, became D-AICA , MSN 191) and Air France (F-WZLI / F-GEMF, MSN 172) , the Swissair example was used it for the crew training programme and so it was not before March 1984, when the three carriers received their aircraft. Swissair operated the first A310 (MSN 162) until 1994, when it was handed over to Air Liberté and later sold to FedEx, which removed it from service on 26.05.2015.
Only two main variants of the A310 were build: series 200 and 300. The series 300 was the long-range version of the A310 with additional tailplane fueltanks, a maximal take-off weight of 164 tonnes and wingtip fences.
Depending on the engine type used, Airbus allocated a three-digit code for each version. A310-203 and -204 were powered by GE CF6-80A3 / CF6-80C2 turbofans, series 221 and 222 had the Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R engines. Eventually the Rolls Royce RB 211-525B4 engines were planned for the A310-240, but this version never was build.
The same system goes for the A310-300: the designations 304, 307 and 308 were allocated to the General Electric CF6-80C2 turbofans, while the series 322, 324 and 325 were powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, either JT9D-7R or PW 4152 / PW4156. ETOPS modifications were allocated with the letters ET. Airbus A310 serialnumbers beginning with s/n 162, because the A310 comes off the same line as the A300.
The demand for the type slowed down in the 1990s and production of the A310 ended with delivery of the 255th and last produced example, which was delivered to Uzbekistan Airways as UK-31003 in June 1998. After nine years Airbus officially ceased the production of the A310 in 2007.
In 2014 124 of all 255 build examples are still in active service for passenger flights or on cargo operations.
A year after the first flight of F-WZLH on 03.04.1982, the first examples were delivered to Swissair and Lufthansa (03/83), KLM (04/83) and Kuwait Airways (09/83).
From 1995 on, U.S. cargo carrier FedEx bought 49 examples of A310 to modernize and increase its worldwide cargo fleet. By August 2015 nine A310-200 were still in use with Fedex. On May 26, 2015 the first A310 ever build (MSN 162, ex HB-IPE, N450FE) was withdrawn from use and put into storage, followed by N410FE, ex D-AICM MSN 356) on 01 August 2015.
Airbus A310 Gallery
All photos copyright protected by Ralf Drews.