The Airbus A310 is a medium to long-range widebody airliner. Launched in 1978, it was the second aircraft created by the Airbus consortium of European aerospace companies, which is now fully owned by EADS. The A310 is a shortened derivative of the A300, the first twin-engined widebody airliner. The A310 (along with the A300) officially ceased production in July 2007 although the last delivery was in June 1998.
The range of the A310 exceeds that of the A300-series with the exception of the A300-600, which surpasses the A310-200. The ability of the A310 to go farther than other planes has led to the aircraft being used extensively on transatlantic routes. The A300 and A310 introduced the concept of commonality: A300-600 and A310 pilots can qualify for the other aircraft with one day of training.
Demand for the aircraft started to slow down and there were no new A310 passenger orders during the late 1990s. The A310 (along with the A300) ceased production in July 2007, though five orders from Iraqi Airways remained on the books until July 2008. The remaining freighter sales are to be fulfilled by the new A330-200F derivative.
The aircraft was formally launched in July 1978 for Lufthansa and Swissair. A further development of the A300, the aircraft was initially designated the A300 B10. Essentially a "baby" A300, the main differences in the two aircraft are
Shortened fuselage - same cross section, providing capacity of about 200.
Redesigned rear fuselage - altered tapering and moving aft of the rear bulkhead created additional capacity. The redesign was also used for the A300-600 and A330/A340 fuselages.
Redesigned wing - designed by British Aerospace who rejoined Airbus consortium
Smaller vertical fin
The A310 was marketed as an introduction to widebody operations for developing airlines. The A310 was replaced in Airbus' lineup by the highly successful A330-200, which shares its fuselage cross-section. Between 1983 and the very last aircraft produced 1998, 255 A310s were delivered by Airbus.
The A300 and A310 established Airbus as a competitor to Boeing and allowed it to go ahead with the more ambitious A320 and A330/A340 families.