Earlier this week we discussed how Airbus had already built a rival to the upcoming Boeing 797 before, the A300.
Some readers asked if the A300 was so successful and airlines are demanding a New Midsize Airplane… why doesn’t’ Airbus simply build a new version, the A300neo?
The A300 is a very old design and thus a new version of it would be far more than just new engines. It would involve a complete overhaul and likely not a single original design idea would exist in the final version.
What would the A300neo be?
The original A300 could carry 266 passengers and fly 4,000 nautical miles. It was in production for over 35 years, with the final one rolling off the line in 2007 for FedEx (a freight variant). Airbus has said that they will contuine to support the aircraft until 2025.
An A300neo version of the aircraft would possibly follow the trend of more passengers and more range. We would likely see an increase up to 5-6,000 nautical miles and up to 300 passengers in a max seating configuration. But with two-classes, we would see 250 economy (in a 3-3-3 configuration) and 40 business class seats. Whether or not they would be lie-flat would depend on the airline’s configuration. The aircraft would be twin-aisled.
It would be made of a composite structure to save weight, and feature winglets on the end of its wings. For the passenger experience, Airbus would have better humidity in the cabin, quieter engines, bigger overhead bins and better control surfaces for pilots (and let us not forget, reconfiguring the plane for two pilots instead of three). In fact, it would be almost impossible to list all the new features required because the plane would essentially be a total rebuild.
For comparison’s sake, the Boeing 797 carries 225-275 passengers and will fly around 5,000 nautical miles.
In this fantasy, Airbus would build two versions (following the pattern of the A350 and A330neo), one smaller but with a better range and a bigger one with more capacity but flying a shorter distance.
Could it actually exist?
Despite all the above hope and conjecture… it is very unlikely.
The first problem is that Airbus already has an aircraft that performs the A300neo role, and that’s the A330-800neo.
With 257 passengers and a range of 8,150nmi / 15,094km, it is more than capable of filling the role of an A300neo. In fact, according to Airbus, it already has by being the rival to the Boeing 797.
At the bottom end of the market is the A321neo. This aircraft can carry up to 240 passengers in a dense economy configuration, and fly 4,000 nautical miles. Airbus is already in dangerous territory with its A319 and A220 lines, they would be sure not to repeat it with an A300neo and A330-800neo / A321neo.
Additionally, Airbus has shut down the assembly line of the A300 for over 10 years, and the design is ancient. The amount of effort that would be required would be astronomical
Airbus is already leveraged with A350, A330neo and A220 production. They simply can’t build the factories fast enough to meet the current demand, let alone introduce a new product. Plus Airbus is still managing the shut down of the A380 line over the next few years.
But the last point is the most somber. Many point to the 737 MAX 8 disaster as a reason why old designs should never be considered. The aircraft involved in the terrible accidents in the last six months is the fourth generation of a 60-year-old old design. Boeing stuck to this ‘vintage’ craft as to prevent pilots from having to retrain… but at a terrible cost.
Could the A300neo give the Boeing 797 a run for its money? Most definitely. But it would cost Airbus everything they have to build it.
What do you think? Is there room for an A300neo?