Andrew Doyle/LONDON

AIRBUS INDUSTRIE IS working on a radical "super-stretch" version of the A340, which could include fore-planes and be powered by Pratt & Whitney advanced ducted propulsors (ADPs). Designated the A340-600, the aircraft is intended as head-on competition for the Boeing 777-300, and could be launched by 1997.

Airbus says that the A340-600 would carry 370 passengers in three classes, with a range of 12,400km (6,700nm) and, "...depending on engine availability, could be in service from 2001". It adds that studies are under way with engine manufacturers on "a variety of existing, derivative and new the 220kN [50,000lb]-thrust class."

The A340-600 will be seen as an ideal platform for P&W to launch its ADP, which is due to be tested with an advanced, composite nacelle in 1997 (Flight International, 12-18 July, 1995). The 205kN-thrust power plant is based on the core of the PW2000, geared to a 2.5m diameter ducted fan.

Airbus wants to maintain as much commonality with the existing A340 as possible. The wing, therefore, will be only slightly larger, with modest increases in span and chord. Some of the required extra lift-surface area would come from the addition of fore-planes on the forward fuselage. The consortium is considering testing the concept on a research aircraft.

The fore-planes have the effect of off-loading the aerodynamic forces on the aircraft's horizontal stabilisers, reducing drag.

Source: Flight International