Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The final article in our series of reports about our fleet features the Airbus A340-300, our flagship aircraft. Having presented our AVROs, A320 family and A330s in previous blogs, we conclude with our biggest aircraft.
The Airbus A340-300 is easily recognisable thanks to its long, lean fuselage and its four engines. This jet ranks as the marathon runner among Airbus aircraft and is worthy of its nickname not only on the basis of its ability to reach top speeds of 900km/h but also because of its operational range of 11,000 km at full payload, which means it is capable of flying between Zurich and such destinations as Los Angeles, Johannesburg, San Francisco, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo.
Measuring 63.7 metres end to end, this aircraft type accommodates 219 passengers in a three-class configuration: eight in First, 47 in Business and 164 in Economy. As in the Airbus A330, the Business Class cabin features innovative, air-cushion seat technology.
A full crew complement aboard the A340 numbers 12 SWISS employees – two pilots in the flight deck and 10 flight attendants in the cabin. Including passengers and crew, the Airbus A340-300 operates with a maximum take-off weight of 275,000 kg.
At present, SWISS possesses 15 Airbus A340-330s with an average age of 10.5 years. Our best-known Airbus A340 is most likely to have been HB-IMJ, which sported the "San Francisco" livery in recognition of the introduction of non-stop service to the city by the bay on 2 June 2010. On view for more than a year, this distinctive colourful livery incorporated flowers and the name San Francisco, recalling the west coast city’s flower-power heritage.
The transformation of this aircraft kept a team of eight people at Zurich Airport busy for several days. A total of close to 400 square metres of special foil were used to get the aircraft ready for the opening of the Zurich-San Francisco route. Three possible designs were presented to readers of the 20 Minuten newspaper, who submitted some 30,000 votes to determine the winning design. On 17 August 2011 the unique livery was removed during a regular maintenance visit. The HB-JMJ is now in service in standard SWISS livery.
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