The latest variant of the highly successful A330 – the new 242 metric tonne A330-300 – has achieved certification from the European airworthiness authorities (EASA) following a 100 hour flight-test campaign. Certification from the US authorities (FAA) is also expected soon. Furthermore, and in the near future, the smaller A330-200 model will follow the -300 by benefiting from the 242t take-off weight capability. To date 11 customers have already selected their new A330s to have a 242t capability.
Eric Zanin, Airbus’ Head of the A330 Programme said: “The latest A330’s maximum take-off weight capability of 242 metric tonnes, combined with various aerodynamic refinements and increased fuel capacity means that soon operators will benefit from an extended range of up to 500 nautical miles or carry greater payload. Moreover, they will do so with a fuel consumption reduction of up two percent – yet another concrete example of Airbus’ incremental innovation strategy.”
The initial certified A330-300 242t aircraft is powered by CF6-80E1 engines and certification with the other engine types – the PW4000 and Trent 700 – will follow.
The flight-test campaign of approximately 100 hours was shared between two aircraft: an Airbus test aircraft (MSN0871) which was used to validate some aerodynamic refinements, and a new production aircraft (MSN1628) whose tasks included the validation of the *centre tank activation and overall performance effect on the larger A330-300 platform. Notably, the 242t A330’s structure is also the basis for development of the forthcoming A330neo.
The combination of the increased take-off weight, aerodynamic improvements and the optional fuel capacity boost – compared with the previous 235t version – means that the new 242t A330-300 is capable of flying missions of up to 15 hours, or carry more payload over existing routes. In practice this means that it will allow operators to fly directly between Europe and south-East Asia and could be used for more than 90 percent of typical routes from London airports.
The A330 Family, which spans 250 to 300 seats and includes Freighter, VIP, and Military Transport/Tanker variants, has attracted almost 1,500 orders and around 1,150 aircraft are flying worldwide with over 100 operators. Ever since the original A330-300 entered service, its hallmarks are its very efficient operating economics, innovative cabin features, while offering passengers much wider economy-class seats than any competing aircraft. Moreover, with numerous product improvements and with an operational reliability of 99.4 percent, the A330 is the most cost-efficient and capable aircraft in its class.