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The Airbus A310 is a medium- to long-range twin-engined wide-body jet airliner that was developed and manufactured by Airbus, then a consortium of European aerospace manufacturers. It was the second airliner to be produced by the company, the first being the A300. The A310 is a smaller derivative of the A300, which held the distinction of being the first twin-engined widebody airliner.
The origin of the A310 lies within design studies originally conducted for the earlier A300 program, specifically the smaller A300B10MC (standing for Minimum Change) design. During the flight testing stage of the A300 program, a number of airlines approached Airbus, expressing that there was also a sizable market for a smaller aircraft, leading to the company commencing studies on producing a separate airliner to produce such an aircraft. The design settled on for the tentative airliner, later designated as the A310, was essentially a fuselage shrink of the A300, furnished with a new wing and a lighter landing gear configuration to suit the smaller scale of the aircraft. It shared a very high level of commonality with the A300, particularly in terms of the cockpit and subsystems. These similarities enabled both aircraft to be manufactured upon the same production line.
On 7 July 1978, Airbus decided to launch the A300B10 program, which it had re-designated as the A310. Initially, the company planned to produce two distinct versions of the A310, these being the regional A310-100 and the transcontinental A310-200, the former being unsuccessful due to lack of demand, with the latter being capable of longer-range flights. On 3 April 1982, the first prototype A310 conducted the type’s maiden flight. In April 1983, the A310 entered revenue service with launch customer Swissair. From an operational perspective, the cockpit of the A310 and the A300-600 share such commonality that a dual type rating could be achieved, easing the training of flight crews for both airliners. It was produced between 1983 and 1998, having been effectively succeeded by the Airbus A320, a newer narrow-body aircraft.