Andrew Doyle/TOULOUSE


After completing 320 days of windtunnel testing Airbus Industrie predicts that its A340-500 and -600 will marginally exceed nominal range targets .

The better-than-expected aerodynamic performance will fully offset the fact that the empty weight of the -600 remains about 1.5t (3,300lb)above specification, while the -500 is 1t heavier than planned, says the consortium.

Meanwhile, Airbus says the late delivery of the first seven shipsets of BAE Systems-built wings for the new models is not expected to cause a delay.

The tests show that the specific ranges of the two new A340 models will be up to 1.5% better than expected at their long-range cruise speed of Mach 0.82, says Airbus vice-president A340-500/600 development Gordon McConnell.

Taking into account the weight rise, this will nominally enable the -600 to exceed its 13,875km range with full payload - albeit by just 37km (20nm) - says McConnell. The -500 should fly about 110km further than its 15,725km target.

The tests revealed a 2.5% improvement in specific range at the higher speed of M0.83, giving the -600 an additional 150km and the -500 a 300km boost, although overall range is below that achieved at M0.82. "We are a bit above our weight target, but the net effect is that we are better than we were before," says McConnell.

Final assembly of the first 380-seat A340-600 is to start by the end of the second quarter, for a maiden flight early in 2001. First deliveries to airlines are due from March 2002. Handover of the first 313-seat -500 is set for September 2002.

Deliveries by BAE of the first seven wing shipsets to DaimlerChrysler Aerospace's (Dasa) Bremen factory for equipping will take place behind schedule.

The delays are the result of problems met by suppliers to BAE in validating and clearing parts designed using CADDS5 three-dimensional design software. BAE says its recovery programme calls for deliveries to be back on schedule "before the end of the year".

The nose and Dasa-built forward fuselage section for the first A340-600 are at Aerospatiale Matra's St Nazaire factory ready for joining. Equipping of the centre-fuselage section is under way there. Dasa is completing assembly of the rear fuselage. CASA of Spain has also finished the first horizontal stabiliser box.

Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce has run six Trent 500 engines, and flight testing of a single powerplant aboard a modified A340-300 is due to start by mid-year.

Source: Flight International