Airbus Industrie A300B
In 1970, several leading European companies joined forces to form the Airbus Industrie consortium, with the aim of challenging the supremacy of the American aerospace giants. Their proposal was for a medium-range passenger aircraft with a capacity of 300 seats (hence the name). This was later revised to 266 seats to suit the needs of customers and in order to make use of an existing engine (the General Electric CF6).
The A300B was innovative in many ways. It was the first large passenger jet with just 2 engines (rather than 3 or 4 on contemporary designs), allowing Airbus to offer significant savings in operating costs compared to other aircraft of similar size. Airbus also became the first manufacturer to use composite materials on its aircraft, allowing major weight savings. The wide fuselage of the A300B allows up to 8 seats per row (2-4-2), but the precise width of the fuselage (5.64m) was in fact chosen to allow two standard LD3 cargo pallets to be loaded side by side in the cargo bay of the aircraft (look down).
The cockpit is typical of an aircraft of its day with a three-man crew (pilot, co-pilot and engineer) and analogue instruments. Later versions of the A300B (from 1982 onwards) and the A310 (a shorter, modernised version with extended range) offered a glass cockpit, now common to all Airbus types; the analogue dials are replaced by 6-8 screens and higher degree of automation means that systems no longer require the attention of an on-board engineer.
The flight controls of the A300B are all hydro-mechanical, meaning that the pilots’ inputs on the control column in front of him are sent via cables and pulleys (you can see these under the cabin floor) to the hydraulic circuits that move the control surfaces on the wings and tail. All Airbus aircraft from the A320 onwards are Fly-by-Wire, meaning that these cables and pulleys are replaced by wires carrying electric signals.
Our A300B is serial number 234, and was first delivered to Pan Am in 1984 under the registration number N210PA. Following the bankruptcy of this company she was sold in September 1993 to an Indonesian company called Sempati Air, based in Jakarta, flying to other cities in Southeast Asia and Australia as PK-JID. She was operational until 1998 and was rescued from being scrapped before returning to the Airbus site for conservation work. The cabin interior of Sempati has been preserved in the central section of the cabin; the rear section of the cabin has been fitted with business and economy class seats typical of today.