Imagine being in a position where money is no object and you can do whatever you like. Apart from one or two travel bloggers who seem to be flying in this rarified atmosphere, it is something most of us are unable to relate to. Enter the Airbus A340-8000, a one off aircraft produced by Airbus for a VIP customer.
The client in question was the Sultan of Brunei, who bought the aircraft for his brother. He wanted to be able to travel non-stop from his country to Europe and the United States, so negotiations ensued and the plane was manufactured.
What Is An Airbus A340-8000?
This is a modified Airbus A340-200 with auxiliary fuel tanks in the cargo hold. Oh, and a slick VVIP interior of course, as one must travel in comfort when one owns their own jet.
Range of the aircraft was set at 8,000 nautical miles which is where the nomenclature comes from. Being able to fly 14,800 kilometres will get you most places on the globe without the need for a pesky and time consuming fuel stop.
What Happened To This Plane?
Officially handed over in November 1998, the Sultan’s brother seems to have gone cold on his gift and he never used it. In fact, the A340-8000 sat parked at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg for nine years. It was then acquired by Saudi Arabian VIP to update their fleet.
They operate the aircraft in Saudi Arabian Airlines livery, as you can see above in the four minute video. This provides a nice cover, because unless you knew the aircraft registered HZ-HMS2 was the VIP plane, you wouldn’t notice anything special about it at all.
Aircraft manufacturers often make VIP versions of their products, so this is not all that unusual. The fact that just one Airbus A340-8000 was produced is what makes it special, and it is one of the most unique planes out there.
It’s pleasing to know it actually gets used, because it would have been a shame had it been scrapped when not used by Brunei. Now you know about it, you’ll have to see if you ever come across it at an airport near you.
Did you know about the Airbus A340-8000? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by JTOcchialini via Wikimedia Commons.
Picture at London by John Taggart via Wikimedia Commons.