In 1998, a very unique Airbus A340 was to be delivered to the government of Brunei. It was, in fact, the one and only Airbus “A340-8000”. This special variant was to go to the brother of the Sultan of Brunei. What made the A340-8000 so unique and where is it now? Let’s find out.
What is the A340-8000 all about?
According to FlightGlobal, Airbus developed the Airbus A340-8000 as an ultra-long-range aircraft for the Brunei Royal Family. A derivative of the A340-200, the aircraft was to be an addition to the monarch’s growing VIP fleet of private jets.
What allowed the aircraft to have its unique designation was the fact that it was fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks. The extra fuel capacity gave it a range of more than 14,800km (8,000nm). This would enable the Sultan and his family to fly non-stop from Brunei to the USA or Europe. The -8000 also featured the 275t MTOW (maximum take-off weight) of the A340-300 and could seat 239 passengers. Fit for a royal family, the A340 was, of course, supposed to be configured with a luxury interior.
We would assume that the 8,000 nautical mile range of the aircraft is where the aircraft gets its special designation, -8000.
What happened to it?
The aircraft, with MSN 204, was officially “delivered” in November 1998. However, it apparently never entered service and was in fact parked, unfitted, at Berlin’s Schönefeld Airfield for several months, under the management of Lufthansa Technik. The VIP interior was not fitted even a year after the aircraft was built. That fact alone fueled speculation that it had been put up for sale.
At some point after 1999, the aircraft moved over to Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, and there it remained until around 2007, having been in storage for a total of nine long years.
Then, in 2007, news broke that the aircraft had been acquired by the Saudi Arabian Government. According to Airfleets, the aircraft was delivered to its new owner on March 1st of 2007. It stayed with the Saudi government for three years until moving over to “Saudi Royal Flight” – which is the fleet belonging to the Saudi Royal family.
According to AIMS Airline Software,
“The prestigious Saudi Royal Fleet is the dedicated airline for the Saudi Royal Family and Saudi Private Aviation is a top-tier international luxury flight services provider for elite clientele across the globe.”Advertisement:
It is in the ranks of the Saudi Royal Fleet that the A340-8000 remains to this day, along with several Boeing 747s, a Boeing 757, and an Airbus A318.
It’s uncertain how much longer the aircraft will remain in the private service of the Saudi Royal Family. However, it is unlikely we will ever see the aircraft in regular commercial passenger service before its retirement.
Did you know about the Airbus A340-8000? Let us know in the comments.