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Intro to Airbus

Updated: Jun 4, 2023



Airbus is an aerospace company founded on December 18, 1970 in Blagnac, France. It has been for nearly 50 years in history. Nowadays, if you see an A-3## on the safety card in your seat pocket, you are on an Airbus. Airbus uses a side stick in the cockpit to control the pitch and roll of the plane. The five most popular Airbus aircraft are the A320, A330, A340, A350, and A380.


Below is a video of the A330 taking off at full thrust. (TOGA thrust set at 0:31; rotation at 1:00)



 

Special Note Ahead: The "Chances of Boarding" estimate also takes into account of passenger bookings and aircraft availabilities, in addition to the route. Airlines receive the number of passengers in advance so they can arrange and dispatch aircrafts.


 


A320 Family



The Airbus A320 is a narrow body, twin-engine airliner, first flown on February 22, 1987 with Air France. Its variants are A318, A319, and A321. As of now, over 10,000 A320s are built. It is one of the most successful airliners ever built, surpassing the B737 in the number of sales as of 2019. Chances are you will board on an A320 on domestic flights.


Summary:

  • Narrow-body

  • Twin-engine

  • Variants: A318, A319, A321, A321neo

  • Plane-spotting tip: Wingtip fence (triangular) for A320/A321; sharklets for A321neo; one main gear on each wing

  • Chances of Boarding: Domestic flights; occasional long distance flights on the A321neo.


A330 Family



The Airbus A330 is a wide body, twin-engine airliner first flown on November 2, 1992. Its variants are A330-200, A330-200F, A330-300, A330-900 (neo). Both the A330 and the A340 use tilted landing gears called bogies, shown in the picture. Around 1,500 A330's have been built. In nowadays, A330 has been used by most of the major airlines around the world. Chances are you will board on an A330 if it's an international flight ranging from 2 to 10 hours or from 3,110 to 8,350 miles.

Summary:

  • Wide-body

  • Twin-engine

  • Variants: A332, A332F, A333, A330neo

  • Plane-spotting tip: Titled landing gear; twin-engine; canted winglets

  • Chances of Boarding: long distance flights (3-10 hours; 3,110 to 8,350 miles)

A340 Family


The Airbus A340 is a wide body, four-engine airliner first flown on October 25, 1991. Its variants are A340-200, A340-300, A340-500, and A340-600. Both the A340 and the A330 use tilted landing gears called bogies, shown in the picture. A340s are not as popular as before because A330 has taken its place. Airbus found that using two engines (A330) are more efficient than using four engines (A340). Around 377 A340s are built in total, but only around 180 are in service. The largest operators are Lufthansa, South African Airways, and Iberia. The A340-600 is one of the longest airliners in the world with its length of 75.30 meters. Chances are you will board on an A340 if it's an international flight ranging from 6 to 13 hours, although it is become rarer to get on an A340.


Summary:

  • Wide-body

  • Quad-engine

  • Variants: A340-200, A340-300, A340-500, and A340-600

  • Plane-spotting tip: Tilted landing gear; quad-engine; 3 main gear

  • Chances of Boarding: long haul flights (pretty rare)

A350 Family XWB


The Airbus A350 is a wide body, twin-engine airliner first flown on June 14, 2013. Its variants are A350-800, A350-900, and A350-1000. Around 400 are in service as of 2021. The largest operators are Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Cathay Pacific. The A350 XWB is currently the newest Airbus aircraft family. Chances are you will board on an A350 if it's an international flight or a long haul flight.


Summary:

  • Wide-body

  • Twin-engine

  • Variants: A350-800/900/1000

  • Plane-spotting tip: Blended winglets; distinct black Zorro mask on the nose

  • Chances of Boarding: international flights or long haul flights

A380-800


The Airbus A380-800 is a wide body, four-engine airliner first flown on April 27, 2005. Its variant is only itself, the A380-800. Only around 230 A380s are built in total. Just barely over the B747, the A380-800 has a cruising speed of around 650mph, making it the fastest airliner among Airbus and Boeing. It is also the biggest airliner in the world with a double decker. Chances are you will board on an A380 if it's an international flight or a very long haul flight (e.g. Taipei to Dubai).


Special Note: In 2019, Airbus announced that they will cease production of the A380 in 2021 due to weak sales. The Superjumbo jet's service of nearly 15 years has marked down one of the most influential era of wide-body jet. Its legacy will never be forgotten in the field of aviation.


Summary:

  • Wide-body

  • Quad-engine

  • Variants: A388 (itself)

  • Plane-spotting tip: Double decker!

  • Chances of Boarding: international flights or very long haul flights

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