Airbus Numbering System
Boeing has its customer codes, but what about Airbus? Can you explain designations like A330-343X,
A330-321, A340-313X, and A300B4-203(F)?
- question from Deric Capino & Chaichan Wiriyasawas
The Boeing commercial aircraft numbering system, popularly called the customer codes, is
explained in a previous article. Airbus too has developed a numbering system that contains additional information
about the aircraft, but these are not customer codes. The Airbus numbers instead denote the type of engine
installed in the aircraft. The general format of the Airbus numbering system is Ammm-sevZ where the
individual components are described below.
- Ammm = model number
- s = series number
- e = number defining the engine manufacturer
- v = number defining the version of the engine model
- Z = optional letter describing a variation of the series number
The Airbus model numbers developed so far are listed below.
The series number refers to the different variants of a particular model that have been developed. Standard
series numbers used by Airbus include 1 for 100, 2 for 200, etc. The primary exception to this system is the
A300. The original series number designations used for variants of this model included the B1, B2, and B4 for
passenger models as well as the C4 for a convertible freighter version. Later production variants of the A300 were
designated as the A300-600 to become consistent with the rest of the Airbus product line.
The engine manufacturer codes that have been assigned to date include the following.
- 0 = General Electric (GE)
- 1 = SNECMA
- 2 = Pratt & Whitney (PW)
- 3 = International Aero Engines (IAE)
- 4 = Rolls-Royce (RR)
- 5 = Engine Alliance (joint venture of GE and PW)
The final number denotes newer versions of the basic engine model. These numbers appear to start at 1 for the
original engine and increase sequentially for updated engines.
An optional letter sometimes follows the series of numbers to designate a variation on the series number. Common
examples include the following.
- C = convertible passenger/freighter model
- F = freighter model
- R = long range model
- X = enhanced model (?)
A330-343X operated by MyTravel Airways
This explanation allows us to decipher the examples provided in the question. The first example is the A330-343X.
This designation refers to an A330 model of the -300 series, which is a passenger version carrying a standard
load of 335 passengers in three classes. The 4 indicates the aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce engines while the
3 refers to the third version of that engine, which is the Trent 772 model. The final X apparently indicates the
aircraft is an A330-300 Enhanced version with an updated flight deck.
The A330-321, meanwhile, indicates an A330-300 model powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4164 engines. The third example
is the A340-313X used for an A340-300 Enhanced model equipped with SNECMA CFM56-5C4 turbofan engines. Finally, the
A300B4-203(F) is an A300B4 model converted to a cargo freighter and powered by General Electric CF6-50C2 or
CF6-50C2D engines.
A good place to further explore the Airbus numbering system is the Commercial Aircraft Census that lists details about each example of Airbus airliners built to
date.
- answer by Joe Yoon, 4 June 2006
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