Virgin Atlantic Airways
Virgin Atlantic

 Virgin Atlantic Showcases Longest Plane in the World at Farnborough Airshow July 2002 (Newstream) -- Virgin Atlantic Airways on July 22, 2002, showcased its new aircraft, the Airbus A340-600 at the Farnborough Airshow, England. Virgin Atlantic is the launch customer for the A340-600 which is the longest aircraft in the world at 247ft (75.3m) - 16ft (4.8m) longer than any other commercial plane. The plane is part of a $1.9 billion (1.25 billion) order for 10 aircraft with wings supplied by British Aerospace and engines built by Rolls Royce.

The aircraft was named 'Claudia Nine' by supermodel Claudia Schiffer at Virgin Atlantic's newly built hangar at Heathrow airport - the only hangar in Europe specially designed to take the A340-600 - after which the media and VIPs were flown to the Farnborough Airshow on the plane.

The new aircraft features many onboard innovations including a redesigned onboard bar and inflight beauty therapy area in Upper Class and new ergonomically designed seats for both Premium Economy and Economy passengers. The aircraft also has the most advanced inflight entertainment system in the world which provides passengers with up to 300 hours of video on demand, 14 audio on demand channels, 15 computer games including multi-player games, and a quick find search facility.

With these new seats we offer the largest screen in Economy Class at 9" and our Upper Class seats offer passengers the largest screen in business class at 10.4". Passengers will also notice the new toilets with chrome fittings and mood lighting - and not just for passengers in Upper Class but for everybody throughout the plane.

Talking from Farnborough, Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said:

"We are delighted to be able to showcase our new aircraft at Farnborough. It is great news for our passengers who will benefit from new products and services onboard including new seats and inflight entertainment.

"It also signifies another step towards recovery from the events of last year. Earlier this month we announced the first new routes since September 11 including an additional New York service and a second daily flight to Washington from next summer.

"We also have one of the youngest fleets in world aviation and the introduction of this new plane brings the average fleet age down to 5 years and 3 months. Once we receive more A340-600s at the end of this year the average fleet age will be 4 years and 10 months meaning Virgin Atlantic will have the youngest transatlantic fleet and one of youngest fleets in the world. We will also be the only airline operating an exclusively four-engined fleet over the Atlantic.

"The environmental advantages of this aircraft include 20% less fuel consumption than older generation aircraft and full compliance with the latest QC2 noise limits at Heathrow.

"As well as going farther and being quieter than previous generations the new plane is also longer than any other. That's why we couldn't resist writing "mine's bigger than yours" on the side of the plane!"

Virgin Atlantic's A340-600s will seat 311 passengers in total - 50 in Upper Class, 28 Premium Economy and 233 Economy. This represents a 25% increase in capacity per aircraft compared to the airline's current A340-300 fleet, which will be replaced by the new aircraft. The aircraft will also have up to 40% additional cargo capacity.

Noel Forgeard, President and Chief Executive Officer commented:

"It gives me great pleasure that Virgin Atlantic is the launch customer for the A340-600, an airline that shares Airbus' taste for innovation and excellence. I know that Virgin Atlantic will take full advantage of the A340-600's great potential, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all Airbus' employees, customers and suppliers who helped to make this new aircraft a success."

Mike Terrett, President Civil Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, said:

"We're all tremendously proud at Rolls-Royce to see the first Trent 500-powered A340-600 flying in Virgin colors. It's been an exemplary engine program, with a great team at the helm. We wish the airline every success as it continues to build its capacity with its new Airbus fleet."

The new aircraft has been granted the same pilot type rating as in-service A340-300's, which reduces flight deck retraining and also provides the airline with increased revenue potential through higher capacity and reduced seat mile costs. The A340-600 has a range of 7,300nm/13,500 km and will be deployed on routes with growing passenger demand.

Claudia Nine is expected to enter commercial service around the end of July. Three more aircraft will be delivered by the end of the year with a further six entering service by 2006. This year the planes will fly between Heathrow and JFK, Tokyo, Hong Kong. From next year they will also fly to Johannesburg.

Virgin Atlantic