The market for the A300-600R has dissipated over the last decade such that the type is now in storage with only a few operators remaining in the Middle East.
In 1987 American Airlines launched the extended range version of the -600. The -600R differs from the -600 in having a 1,620 USG fuel tank in the horizontal stabilizer with a computerized fuel transfer system for active center of gravity control and the required equipment fit for 180 minutes ETOPs approval for all airframe/engine combinations. The MTOW is increased from 165 tonnes to 170.5/171.7 tonnes. Production of the -600R has now ended. The A300-600 engines are the Pratt & Whitney PW4000, or the General Electric GE CF6-80C2A1 rated at 56,000lb to 61,500lb. The integrated wing tanks have a capacity of 62,000l of fuel. An additional fuel tank in the tail plane brings the total fuel capacity to 68,150l, and optional fuel cells in the cargo area can maximize the total fuel to 73,000l. The main cabin is configured in a twin-aisle layout with a six to nine abreast seating arrangement. There are six main cabin passenger doors, with two outward parallel opening, plug type passenger doors on each side of the aircraft forward of the wing and one on each side at the rear of the fuselage. The A300-600 flight deck accommodates a crew of two.
The B787 represents a formidable replacement for the -600R and the A350 presents the existing model with fresh challenges. But the B787 is not the cause of the fall. The type has an extensive service life and for many years has been overshadowed by the more versatile B767-300ER. Values of the A300-600R have been steadily falling for more than a decade and though a few were delivered in the previous decade, mainly in the guise of freighters, the type has been virtually out of production for the last decade. Values of the type have the potential for further weakness through fleet replacement, not least by American. The aircraft is already being parted out and there are a large number in storage.
An initial successor, in the form of a shortened A330-200, dubbed the A330-500 was previously proposed. Despite initial interest from a few lessors, there was little appetite from operators and development was put on hold. However, even this reprieve failed to halt the decline in values. Sales of the A300-600R have always paled against those for the competing B767-300ER though when compared to the B767-300, perhaps the more appropriate competitor, sales have been reasonable. The development of the B787, reinforced the inevitable downward path for values. The development of the revised A350, though larger than the A300-600R, was also a negative.
The more limited range of the A300-600R has been the principal cause for limited sales. Yet in the context of regional operations in Asia, where capacity more than long haul capability is valued, the type remains reasonably popular and should remain so at least until the arrival of the B787 in numbers. The emergence of low fare carriers may however see diversion away from the traditional high capacity widebodies to smaller equipment. The operator base of the –600R is contracting. There are a total of nine carriers operating some 20 aircraft.