The very first Airbus

Today, Airbus is a common sight in the Philippines. Before, it was a minority, and that's because it was the only Airbus during the early 70s. This is the Airbus A300. It is the world's first twin-engine widebody aircraft in the world which offered medium range capabilities. It was also the world's first aircraft to make use of composite materials on some of its parts.


Airbus Industrie, a consortium of European aircraft manufacturers consisting of Aerospatiale (merged from Sud Aviation and Nord Aviation), British Aerospace, Deutsche Aerospace, and CASA, wanted to build an aircraft the comes between the widebody and narrowbody aircraft during that time, which were the Boeing 747-200, the tri-jet McDonnel Douglas DC-10, and the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar. The manufacturer ended up with the twin-engine wide body aircraft that completely fills the space between the 737 and DC-10. It was a wide body like the trijet DC-10 but it only carried two engines like the Boeing 737.

The very first A300. Wikipedia

The name "A300" came from "A" for Airbus, and "300" meaning it can take in 300 passengers. From then on, Airbus always used the "300" number regardless of the number of seats. Case in point, the A320 does not even fit more than 240 passengers (A321 series).

There were actually different variants of the A300 starting from the A300B1 which was the prototype aircraft and a second one Trans European Airways. The A300B2 was a few frames longer than the B1 and was powered by GE CF6 or Pratt and Whitney JT9D engines. The A300B4 was the version that went into full production. Philippine Airlines was one of its customers with 14 in the fleet that time. PAL's very first A300B4 had a "Love Bus" graphic at the forward area of the fuselage, which was later reincarnated 40 years later on the A350. The "Love Bus" graphic was exclusively for Philippine Airlines.

Airbus later came out with the A300-600. It had the same length as the B2 and B4 but had an increase space over the previous models. It uses the same rear fuselage as that on the A310-100 (a shorter version of the A300), it used higher power GE CF-6-80 engines or Pratt & Whitney PW4000 turbofans. It only required two pilots to fly it eliminating the need for a flight engineer, something its widebody counterparts did not have that time. It was also equipped with wingtip devices or wingfences which made the aircraft more efficient by reducing vortices on the wingtips.

A300 cross section. Wikipedia

The A300 had a range of 5,375 (A300B4) to 7,500 (A300-600) km and can carry a maximum of 345 passengers in a single class configuration. PAL's B4 was perfect for its regional and domestic operations where operating a 747 or DC-10 were too big and a 737 or BAC-111 were too small. PAL acquired the A300B4 in 1979. Its first commercial flight was with Air France in 1974.

The A300 was also the first ETOPS rated aircraft or Extended Twin-Engine Operations meaning it can operate further than one hour from a diversion airport with one-engine inoperative at cruise speed, over water or remote lands, on routes previously restricted to three and four-engine aircraft.

The A300 ceased production in 2007, a time when the A320, A330, and A340 were already being produced. The A330 and A340 shared the same cross-section as the A300.

​PAL retired the A300B4 from service in 2001, replaced by the A330-300. Out of the 561 A300 delivered, a total of 214 are still in operation.

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