A new evolution in Airbus’ market-leading widebody product line is now taking shape as the company’s A330-300 offering the increased 242 tonne maximum takeoff weight capability has entered final assembly in Toulouse, France.
This marks a key milestone for the A330 programme, with Airbus applying its philosophy for incremental innovation to further increase the cost-effectiveness and versatility with this popular twin-engine widebody aircraft product line.
Airbus is utilising a “two-way” approach to innovation in achieving the higher maximum takeoff weight of 242 tonnes for its A330-300 and the shorter-fuselage A330-200 versions, explained A330 Marketing Director Jean Ladoues. This involves applying state-of-the-art technology from the latest members of its product line – including the A350 XWB; as well as activating the centre fuel tank on the A330-300, which has been utilized as standard on the A330-200.
“Our approach to incremental innovation ensures the A330 Family’s reputation as a market leader – today and well into the future,” he said. “The new enhanced takeoff weight A330 variants will further improve the A330’s superior operating economics with a high-level of commonality for operators in the near-term, while also becoming the development platform of the A330neo (new engine option) that was launched earlier this year.”
Among the benefits delivered to operators of the 242-tonne maximum takeoff weight A330s are up to 500 nautical miles of additional range, along with 2 percent fuel-burn reduction through a combination of improved engine fuel-burn performance and the jetliners’ enhanced aerodynamics, which are based on developments from the next-generation A350 XWB.
This added range – up to 6,100 naut. mi. for the A330-300, and 7,250 naut. mi. for the A330-200 – will allow operators to expand A330 service on key long-haul routes, such as those linking Europe with Asia and South America, as well as trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights from North America.
“As a result of its takeoff weight increase, the A330-300 will now be able to serve over 90 percent of the traffic from London Heathrow – one of the biggest long-haul hubs in the world,” said Ladoues, noting that A330-300 variants will be able to fly approximately 13 hours, with the A330-200 increasing its range to some 15 hours.
U.S.-based Delta Air Lines is the launch customer for the increased takeoff weight A330-300 variant and is scheduled to take its first delivery of its first aircraft in the second quarter of 2015, which is to be followed by 242-tonne A330-200’s planned commercial service entry in early 2016.
These enhanced takeoff weight A330s already have developed a wide customer base, with nine airlines from across the world committing to the jetliner types. Airbus has accumulated more than 1,300 A330 Family orders for all versions, and over 1,100 aircraft from this product line currently are in service for 100-plus operators worldwide.
“Two-thirds of the A330 Family’s total orders have booked in the past 10 years – proof that the €150 million Airbus invests annually in continuous efficiency, performance and passenger comfort improvements for the A330 have ensured that it remains a very competitive aircraft,” Ladoues concluded.