* out of production

Boeing 707*   Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 336,000 pounds (152,400 kgs)

Cruising Speed= 607 mph (977 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 25,000 to 40,000 feet

Wingspan= 145 feet 9 inches (44.42 m)

Wing area= 3,010 square feet (280 m2)


The first successful commercial jet of its time, the Boeing 707 introduced America into the 'Jet Age' of the 1950's. The leader during this age of utilising turbojets and turbofans to power airliners for scheduled passenger service, Boeing fast became one of the biggest companies to produce passenger aircraft. Modelled after the 367-80 prototype nicknamed 'Dash 80', the Boeing 707 was a four engine commercial passenger jet airliner that predominated the civil usage of aircraft in the United States. The early series of Boeing 707-120 jetliner series employed a bigger cabin as well as Pratt & Whitney turbojet engines that surpassed the 'Dash 80' prototype. When it was discovered, however, that the range capability of the initial Boeing 707 could hardly fly it across the Atlantic Ocean, Boeing commenced production of the Boeing 720 variant series. While lighter, faster, and with better runway performance, the 720 series was quickly surpassed by the Boeing 707-320 Intercontinental series. With bigger wings, higher powered engines that increased fuel capacity to more than 23,000 gallons, and longer fuselage, the 320 series reigned supreme with their ability to fly passengers over 4,000 miles. To further increase the mileage of the Boeing 707, Pratt & Whitney JT3D Turbofan engines were fitted in the early 1960's to increase it to 6,000 miles whilst reducing noise and fuel consumption.

The Boeing 707's first flight occurred on 20 December 1957 and less than a year later it had its first commercial flight on a route from New York to Paris. Initially operated mostly by Pan Am, the Boeing 707 was soon utilised by American Airlines as well for domestic flights after 1959. Thanks to Boeing's pioneering 707 series and models, Boeing still today holds almost three-fourths of the commercial jet fleet. While the popularity of the Boeing 707 led to increased development in air traffic control systems, airport terminals, runways, etc., they eventually ceased being produced at the end of 1978. Too small to handle the increased passenger densities on later routes, Boeing retired the 707 for subsequent jetliner models. At the end of their run 1,010 Boeing 707's had been in use.

Boeing 717*  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 110,000 pounds (49,854 kgs)

Cruising Speed= 504 mph (811 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 34,200 feet

Wingspan= 93 feet 3 inches (28.45 m)

Wing area= 1,001 square feet (92.97 m2)


In 1995 AirTran Airways ordered Boeing to work on a program to create an aircraft suitable for the 100 passenger airline market that would be utilised for short-haul flights. In response Boeing came up with the Boeing 717-200. This aircraft, known for its excellence in performance and reliability, was modelled after an earlier model proposed by Douglas Aircraft--the Douglas DC-9--that had been introduced as the McDonnell Douglas MD-95. When McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged in 1997, concerns arose amidst reports that Boeing would cancel development of the MD-95. However, Boeing continued production of the 100-seat MD-95, but under a different guise: the Boeing 717. A single-aisle jet airliner with a twin engine, the 717 was marketed as Boeing's 'Third Generation' derivative of the earlier DC-9.

Not long after its launch, the capabilities of the Boeing 717 became clear: it was much more spacious and faster than its counterpart BAe 146, it held a higher dispatch reliability at over 99%, it was less expensive to mass produce, and its maintenance costs were cheap and fast due to to the modular nature of its new Rolls Royce BR715 engine design. Marketed to numerous large airline companies such as Lufthansa and Northwest, the first delivery of the Boeing 717 was in September 1999 to AirTran Airways.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, airline traffic experienced a major slump that led to the Boeing 717's decline in production. Boeing continued to produce the aircraft, believing its suitability to the 100-seat market to remain popular. However, year after year the 717 received incredibly low volumes of requests, repeatedly losing out to competitors. In an era where most manufacturers were interested primarily with making a 'family' of aircrafts, like the Airbus, the Boeing 717 lacked commonality with any other aircraft. Boeing announced in January of 2005 that production on the Boeing 717, having built a total of 516 in its heyday.

Boeing 727*  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 191,000 pounds (86,600 kgs)

Cruising Speed= 570 to 605 mph (890 to 965 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 30,000 to 40,000 feet (9,144 to 12,192 m)

Wingspan= 108 feet (32.91 m)

Wing area= 1,647 square feet (153.3 m2)


Leading worldwide as the most produced commercial jet airliner for over a decade, the Boeing 727 first flew in 1963. Modelled after a compromise between United Airlines, Eastern Air Airlines, and American Airlines, the 727 was produced to service smaller runways and passenger demand that would be found in smaller cities. The three airlines compromised with the notion of the 727 as a trijet: an aircraft that would be powered by three jets engines. The 727 was the first to have an APU (auxiliary power unit): a small gas turbine engine that eliminated the need for ground starting equipment or power so that it could be used in primitive airports of more developing countries. Mid-size with a narrow-body and a fuselage diameter of 138 inches (3.8 m), the Boeing 727 employs six-abreast seating complete with a central access walkway. With its unique wing design utilising high-lift devices that enabled it to operate from relatively short runways, the 727 was able to service smaller airports better than its predecessor, the Boeing 707. In addition, its ability to fly medium range routes made it popular internationally. The 727 was useful also to charter and cargo airlines, such as FedEx, as well as to transport passengers to resort or to cruise ships.

With its distinctive T-shaped detail and trio of mounted engines at its rear, the Boeing 727 carried billions of passengers on routes that ranged from short hops to cross-country flights. In the beginning of the 21st century the 727 was still being used but most airlines had made the switch to twinjets that utilised two engines instead of three allowing for better fuel efficiency as well as a quieter ride. After first being carried out in November of 1962, Boeing was only initially expecting to build 250 aircrafts but after its popular reception once the Boeing 727-200 variation was introduced with larger passenger capability, the 727 went on to have 1,832 produced. As of November 2007 there were 76 Boeing 727-100 and 356 Boeing 727-200 still in airline service.

Boeing 737 (-600)  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 145,500 pounds (66,000 kg)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.785

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 112 feet 7 inches (34.3 m)

Wing area= 1,344 square feet (125 m2)


When it was envisioned in 1964, the Boeing 737 was originally created to be a lower cost, short twin-engine airliner derived from its predecessors, the Boeing 727 and 707. The last surviving narrow bodied jet airliner made by Boeing, the 737 accommodates short to medium range routes. Beginning its service in 1968, it initially was planned for 50-60 passengers for routes 50-1,000 miles long but was soon increased to accommodate for 100 seats. Lufthansa was the first to order the aircraft, putting in a request on the 21 February 1965 for 21 aircrafts. When United Airlines showed interest in the 737, Boeing created a longer version named the Boeing 737-200 and marketed the original as the Boeing 737-100.

To win out over its competitors of the time, the BAC 1-11, Douglas DC-9, and Fokker F28, Boeing used the same fuselage of the previous 727 so that the model would have six-abreast seating instead of the typical five-abreast. Additionally, Boeing decided to place the weight of the nacelles below the wings so that the airframe would have reduced stress and the wings would become lighter. This enabled the 737 to keep low to the ground and thus allowed for easy ramp operations. The Boeing 737 was also fitted with a Pratt & Whitney JT8D-1 engine.

Boeing introduced the world to the 737 with its first of six 737-100 prototypes in December 1966, with the 737-200 models not far behind in August 1967. By improving the thrust reversal system, Boeing introduced the world of aircrafts into an improvement that was soon a universal aircraft upgrade requirement. By 1970, however, Boeing had begun to lose sales in the 737 amidst financial difficulties, having received just 37 orders. Boeing wrestled with the idea of ending production and selling it to a Japanese aviation company, but after freeing up some finances through the cancellation of other projects, production of the 737 continued. With this Boeing began the 'New Generation 737s' that incorporated value-added technology and improvements for the 21st century. Using advanced technology winglets these 737s, numbered -600 to -900, enable airlines to save on fuel costs, extend the aircrafts range, reduce engine maintenance costs, and carry more. As the world's most popular and reliable commercial transport, the Boeing 737 has 1,250 of them airborne at any given time and on average one departs or lands about every five seconds. There have been 5,800 delivered as of 2008 and over 8,000 ordered since manufacturing began in 1967.

Boeing 747 (-400)  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 875,000 pounds (396,890 kgs)

Cruising Speed= 0.85 Mach (567 mph; 913 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 211 feet 5 inches (64.4 m)

Wing area= 5,650 square feet (524.9 m2)


Nicknamed the 'Jumbo Jet', the Boeing 747 is certainly the most recognisable aircraft to date. Holding the passenger capacity record for 37 years after its first commercial flight in 1970, the 747 was the first wide body commercial airliner produced. Utilising four engines and a double-deck configuration, this aircraft was available to the public in passenger, freighter, and other versions.

Amidst the boom in air travel during the 1960's 'Jet Age' and the reign of the 707 and DC-8s, the president of PanAm Airways pressed upon Boeing to construct a passenger aircraft that would be twice the size of the popular 707. With increased airport congestion as a result of growing numbers of passengers being squeezed onto small planes, PanAm wanted a bigger aircraft to better serve the masses of air travellers. Joe Sutter, who had been on the team that created the 707, was soon brought onboard the project. Afraid that the 747 would soon be superseded by supersonic transport aircraft, Boeing made sure during development to design the aircraft so that it could easily carry freight as well as passengers in case a future decline in passenger sales took place. With two aisles through the aircraft, the Boeing 747 holds four mounted engines and a seating capacity of over 366 passengers in a 3-4-3 arrangement. Furthermore, with the cockpit raised over the main deck the aircraft is able to load cargo in the front 'hump.'

The Boeing 747-400 is the current model in service today and is one of the fastest airliners. With a range of 7,260 nautical miles, the 747-400 is an immensely popular intercontinental airliner that became the world's first 400-plus seat airplane. In addition, it has newly added winglets that help reduce its drag, a new flight deck, and new avionics. Serving over 210 airports and currently the world's fastest jetliner, the 747-400 is surely the world's favourite airliner. A staggering 1,408 of these aircrafts have been produced as of June 2008, with 118 more on order in various configurations. The latest model to follow, the Boeing 747-8, is scheduled to be in service in the year 2009.

Boeing 757 (-200)  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 255,000 pounds (115,680 kgs)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.80

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 124 feet 10 inches (38.05 m)

Wing area= 1,994 square feet (185.3 m2)


Entering service in 1983, the Boeing 757 was a narrow body commercial passenger airliner with a short to medium flight range. The 757 was produced for airlines such as Eastern Air Lines and British Airways so as to replace the previous 727 and supplement the 767 on certain routes. Referred to as '7N7' throughout its development, the aircraft initially featured a 'T-tail' and under-wing engines but in the end the conventional tail was used instead. The 757 utilises the same upper-fuselage diameter as its predecessors: the 707, 727, and 737. The first Boeing aircraft to have its engines produced outside of the United States, the 757 employs a Rolls-Royce RB211 and is used specifically heavy domestic routes as well as long routes between Europe and North America. With 20% more seats and 50% longer range than the previous 727-200, the Boeing 757's size has sometimes been argued to have made it 'too much of an aircraft' to replace the 727.

The Boeing 757-200 model has been the majority seller of the 757 and is thus considered to be the definitive form of the aircraft. With a twin engine, the aircraft had an exceptional fuel efficiency, increased passenger comfort, top operating performance, and low noise. While the 757 has been a useful addition to Boeing's 'family' of aircrafts, production on it was ceased when it experienced dwindling sales in the late 1990's. The majority still in service today are used with United States carries, holiday or charter airlines, Delta airlines, and American Airlines, while British Airways currently uses it for routes from London to Manchester. With a 23-year run, the Boeing 757 had its last model roll of production lines on the 28 October, 2004, having been the 1,050th of its kind. As of July 2007 a total of 1,019 have been in service. In the short term it has been replaced with the Boeing 737-900 ER.

Boeing 767 (-200 ER)  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 395,000 pounds (179,170 kgs)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.80 (530 mph; 851 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 156 feet 1 inch (47.6 m)

Wing area= 3,050 square feet (283.3 m2)


Referred to only as '7X7' during production, the Boeing 767 is a mid-size, twin jet engine, wide-body jet airliner. Introduced into service in 1982, Boeing wanted aircraft that was mid-size and could fit between their 727/737/757 and 747. The 767 has a fuselage that is midway between its narrow body sister, the 757, as well as the 777 at 15 feet 6 inches. The wings and engines of the aircraft match that of the earlier 747. It also boasts a range of 5,200 to 6,590 nautical miles utilising a strong fuel efficiency. The layout of the 767 also enables it to carry between 181 to 325 passengers in a twin aisle configuration of 2-3-2.

In July 1978 United became the first client of the 767, ordering 30 aircrafts. On August 4, 1981, the first of the -200 series came off the production line. From the late 1980's onward to the late 1990's the 767 garnered good sales, but with the recession of the early 1990's production numbers were soon cut back. While 1997 enjoyed strong sales for the Boeing 767 aircraft, the economic difficulties of the early 2000's along with the recent replacement programme of the 787 and strong competition by Airbus, Boeing has seen less and less sales since. DHL and the United Parcel Service (UPS) remain prominent users of the 767 for transporting their freight and Delta Airlines is the biggest operator, with 102 aircrafts. The 767 'family' includes the newer 767-300 ER which has received two order as of August 2008, as well as the -200 ER series that is a more lengthened, extended variant.

Boeing 777 (-200)  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 545,000 pounds (247,200 kgs)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.84

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 199 feet 11 inches (60.9 m)

Wing area= 4,605 square feet (427.8 m2)


Better known as the 'Triple Seven', the Boeing 777 is the world's largest twinjet. With a wide body, twin engines, and a long range, the 777 can carry between 283 and 386 passengers over 3 classes. Its intercontinental range, a staggering 5,235 to 9,450 nautical miles, makes it one of the most utilised airliners to date with worldwide airlines. It is easily recognised with numerous distinguishing characteristics: its circular fuselage cross section, its large diameter turbofan engines that rival that of any other aircraft, its pronounced 'neck' aft of the flight deck, the six wheels apparent on each main landing gear, and its blade-like tail cone.

The design process for the Boeing 777 was unlike any other before it. Eight major airline companies (Cathay Pacific, American, Delta, ANA, BA, JAL, Quantas, United) played a part in the design of the aircraft, utilising a 'Working Together' model. With airlines previously unimpressed by the 767X model of the 1980s, Boeing realised that a new twinjet aircraft needed to be produced that would have the necessary requirments: a bigger cabin cross section, a fully flexible cabin configuration, short to intercontinental range capability, and a cost that would be lower than any 767 model. Employing a never-before-used technique, Boeing constructed the entire 777 commercial aircraft on the computer with 3-Dimensional computer graphics. By 'pre-assembling' the aircraft in this manner on the computer a great deal of expense was spared in not requiring a full-scale model to test and re-test construction on. In October 1990 United Airlines became the first customer, having placed an order requiring 34 Pratt & Whitney powered Boeing 777s. Two years later, in January 1993, production on the aircraft commenced and its name was ultimately changed to the 'Boeing 777.' Finally, on 15 May 1995 Boeing was able to deliver the first 777 to United Airlines. In February 2000 Boeing further added to the 777 family with the -200 and -300 models, each with a longer range allowing for non-stop routes that had never been possible prior. This past June, 2008 there were 1,084 orders from 54 different customers for 777s.

Currently the competitors of the Boeing 777 are the Airbus A330-300, A340, and variants of the A350 XWB that is still in production. However, while the 777 is capable of substantial international content, the Boeing 787 is expected to supersede it. Furthermore, Boeing expects that the aircraft family will itself be replaced its new product family, the Boeing Y3, which is currently being developed with technical aspects similar to that of the much anticipated 787.

Boeing 787 (-3) 'Dreamliner'  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 364,000 pounds (165,100 kgs)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.85 (562 mph; 903 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 170 feet (52 m)

Wing area= 3,375 square feet (347 m2)


Known through production as the '7E7', The Boeing 787 'Dreamliner', is Boeing's latest and greatest aircraft currently under development. A mid-sized, wide body jetliner with twin engines, the 787 is expected to surpass earlier airlines of the '700s' family with its innovative architecture. After slow sales of the 767 and 747 in the late 1990's due to competition from the Airbus A330-200, Boeing began development of the 747X. After the introduction of the Airbus A380, however, Boeing quickly switched to an alternative: the 787. The 'Dreamliner' will be the first airliner of its kind to use composite materials for the majority of its construction as well as increasing fuel efficiency by 20%. Its electric architecture will replace hydraulic power and bleed air with electrically powered pumps and compressors. The General Electric GEnx and Rolls Royce Trent-1000 will be the two types of engines utilised; a change that had to occur due to the typically used Pratt & Whitney's developmental limit having been reached with prior aircraft models.

Boeing claims that the 787 will be able to bring mid-size airplanes towards capabilities of big-jet ranges while providing airlines with unrivaled fuel efficiency so as to benefit the environment. Additionally, the 'Dreamliner' expects to have more cargo revenue capacity, an interior environment that is more comfortable and humid, and the ability to carry 210 to 250 passengers a staggering 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles. With the open architecture utilised by its designers, the Boeing 787 will be simpler than its counterparts and thus have better functionality. Early conceptual photos of the 787 claimed that the aircraft would have a radically new design: curved surfaces, rakish cockpit windows, a distinctive 'shark' fin vertical stabiliser, and a dropped nose. However, the final image of the 787 was frozen so that it will have a more conventional look, similar to its predecessors, with a less rakish nose and a typical tail. The -3 version expects to be able to seat 290 passengers over two classes and fly ranges of 2,500 to 3,050 nautical miles. It will replicate the Airbus A-300/A-310 as well as the Boeing 757-300/767-200 on routes that may have restricted gate space at the airports.

Employing a team of international specialists to collaborate its management with suppliers, Boeing has helped change the face of aircraft design so that it is a cooperative effort between technicians and suppliers. In late 2003 the Boeing 787 was first able to be sold. Since then it has become the fastest selling wide body jetliner, having already had almost 600 orders. On 8 July, 2007 the first 787 was introduced in a roll out ceremony that attracted worldwide attention. Originally proposed in service for May 2008, after experiencing delays it is now expected to enter service in the third-quarter of 2009.

Airbus A310 (-200)*   Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 312,342 pounds (141,974 kgs)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.8 (528 mph; 850 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 144 feet (43.9 m)

Wing area= 2,357 square feet (219 m2)


Initially launched as the 'Baby A300' and 'A300 B10', the Airbus A310 is a twin-engine, wide-body, medium to long-range airliner that boasts numerous similarities to its predecessor, the A300. Airbus realised its interest in opening developing airlines to widebody operations and so production on its second aircraft, the A310, began. The A310's range of up to 5,200 nautical miles far exceeds the previous A300 and thus it has been utilised mostly on transatlantic routes. Having introduced the notion of 'commonality' between their aircrafts, Airbus made the A310 similar to the A300, but with certain improvements: a smaller vertical fin, a wing redesigned by British Aerospace, and the same cross-section but with better fuselage allowing for about 200 passengers. The first A310 and 162nd aircraft off of Airbus's production line, the Airbus A310-200 had its maiden flight utilising Pratt & Whitney engines in April 1982. Since then it has become a staple aircraft of airlines such as Swiss Air and Lufthansa.

After its launch in 1978 the A310 enjoyed a good run, having delivered 255 aircrafts between the years 1983 and 1998. The development and marketing of the A310 as well as the A300 helped to launch Airbus as one of the world's leading aerospace corporations, next to Boeing. The A310 also enabled Airbus to further plans for an A320 and A330/340 'family' of aircrafts. Unfortunately, the Airbus A310 has since reached its market life for being a cargo or passenger aircraft and since July 2007 has officially ceased its production as well as the A300's. Since then it has been replaced by the A330-200 which possesses the same fuselage cross section and has therefore has filled any outstanding orders to date.

Airbus A320 (-200)  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 169,000 pounds (77,000 kgs)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.78

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 111 feet 10 inches (34.10 m)

Wing area= 1,317.5 square feet (122.4 m2)


Airbus's commercial passenger airliner with a short to medium range of 3,000 nautical miles, the Airbus A320 is one of a family of airliners that includes the A318, A319, A320, and A321. The second bestselling jet family after its competition, the Boeing 737, the A320 is powered by the CFM 56-5 or IAE V2500 engines. Upon the success of the A300, Airbus decided to develop a newer model that would be able to replace the most popular aircraft at the time, the Boeing 727. When the 1970s brought with it an increase in oil prices, Airbus also recognised the necessity to minimise trip fuel costs and so introduced 'fly-by-wire' technology as well as a glass cockpit (EFIS), a two-person flight deck, a centre of gravity control using fuel, and composite primary structures in the A320. In the end, the A320 managed to save Airbus costs by utilising 50% less fuel than the Boeing 727.

Although designed to match the size of the Boeing 727, the Airbus A320 was produced with improved operating economics and various passenger capacities within variant models, as well as a single-aisle cabin unusual to most airliners of its class. With the genius of Bernard Zeigler, Airbus constructed the A320 utilising the pioneering technology of 'fly-by-wire' flight control systems that Zeigler adamantly believed could be conceptualised in commercial aircrafts. With this digital technology the Airbus claimed the A320 would herald in a two-generation leap over the Boeing 727 and its analogue technology as well as being a generation ahead of Boeing's series 727-300/-400/-500. It was first delivered in 1988 and has managed to achieve the highest production rate for a commercial airliner ever. Currently the A320 continues to be produced with numerous aircrafts to be delivered to China between 2009 and 2012. Every month about 32 Airbus A320s are produced, indicating it is still in very high demand.

Airbus A330 (-200)  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 507,063 to 513,677 pounds (230,000 to 233,000 kgs)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.86 (541 mph; 871 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 197 feet 10 inches (60.3 m)

Wing area= 1,186 square feet (361.6 m2)


Launched by Airbus in 1987, the Airbus A330 is a twin engine, large capacity, wide body, medium-to-long-range passenger airliner. Developed to compete within the Extended Twin Engine Operation Performance Standards (ETOPS) market, its main competitor is the Boeing 767. The A330 was also intended to replace the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 since airlines learnt that it was 38% more fuel efficient. Produced alongside the four-engine Airbus A340, the A330 has wings and a fuselage that matches that of the smaller variants of the A340. The A330's fuselage design was borrowed from that of the A300 while its cockpit/nose section, flightdeck, as well as its fly-by-wire system were taken from the previous A320. The A330 currently has variant models, one of them being the Airbus A330-200. The -200 variant model which is an extended version of the -300 variant model, has sold strongly since its launch. The main competitor of the A330-200 is currently the Boeing 767-300 ER although its equivalent will be the Boeing 787-8 when it goes into service in 2009.

By the end of June 2008, a total of 550 out of the 975 Airbus 330's ordered have been delivered to various airlines.

Airbus A340 (-200)  Technical Specifications:

Weight (TOW)= 606,300 pounds (275,000 kgs)

Cruising Speed= Mach 0.82 (557 mph; 896 km/h)

Cruising Altitude= 35,000 feet

Wingspan= 197 feet 10 inches (60.3 m)

Wing area=3,892 square feet (361.6 m2)


With four engines, the Airbus A340 is a wide-body, long range commercial passenger airliner with a flight range of 6,700 to 9,000 nautical miles. With a design similar to the prior twin-engined A330, its initial versions bore the exact fuselage and wings of the A330. Eventually in later models however the A340 was given larger and longer wings. A seating scheme able to accommodate 281 to 380 passengers, the A340 can fly its many passengers on long over-water routes. As Virgin Atlantic Airways' motto is for its A340: '4 Engines 4 Long Haul.' After modification, the later versions of the Airbus A340 all employ joysticks not yokes as well as an underwing bulge (a 'plastron') that helped correct its initial airflow problems. Like its predecessors, the Airbus A340 utilises fly-by-wire technology. Airbus is also able to boast that it is the first commercial jet where mobile phones are able to be used throughout the flight.

When it was launched in June 1987 as a long range complement to the A320 and A300, the Airbus A340 and its twin jet engine design held a disadvantage to its competition, the Boeing 747. Due to ETOPS regulations, any two engine craft had to stay within 60 minutes flying distance to a diversion airport; a requirement the A340 could not yet meet. With subsequent production, Airbus brought forth variant models, such as the longer-range -500 and -600 models, that utilised Rolls-Royce Trent 500 engines. Other shorter variants, like the -200 models, had a range of 7,450 nautical miles and could transport 261 passengers. In 1993 Lufthansa as well as Air France made orders for the A340. Unfortunately, in recent years sales have declined due to the higher gross weight of its competitor, the Boeing 777. Due to the recent fuel prices as of 2008, Airbus has had to curb many of its flights, especially those that are over 15 hours in duration. As a result, as well as having been outsold lately by the Boeing 777, Airbus announced that it is currently designing the Airbus A340 E which will be a more fuel efficient and better competitor for the Boeing 777.