|A330-900 in Airbus Livery|
|Role||Wide-body jet airliner|
|First flight||19 October 2017|
|Introduction||15 December 2018 with TAP Air Portugal|
|Status||In production, in service|
|Primary users||TAP Air Portugal|
Delta Air Lines
Thai AirAsia X
|Number built||37 (As of 30 November 2019[update])|
|Program cost||US$2 billion (£1.18 Billion)|
|Developed from||Airbus A330|
The Airbus A330neo ("neo" for "New Engine Option") is a wide-body jet airliner developed by Airbus from the Airbus A330 (now A330ceo – "Current Engine Option"). A new version with modern engines comparable to those developed for the Boeing 787 was called for by owners of the current A330. It was launched on 14 July 2014 at the Farnborough Airshow, promising 14% better fuel economy per seat. It will exclusively use the larger Rolls-Royce Trent 7000. Its two versions are based on the A330-200 and -300: the -800 has a range of 8,150 nmi (15,090 km) with 257 passengers while the -900 covers 7,200 nmi (13,330 km) with 287 passengers. The -900 made its maiden flight on 19 October 2017 and received its EASA type certificate on 26 September 2018. It was first delivered to TAP Air Portugal on 26 November and had its maiden commercial flight on 15 December. The -800 made its first flight on 6 November 2018, aiming for type certification in mid-2019 and first delivery in the first half of 2020.
At the Boeing 787 launch in 2004, Airbus' response was at first an improved A330, but after negative feedback from airlines and lessors, the A350 XWB became a new design in 2006. After the A320neo launch in December 2010 and its commercial success, Air Asia's boss Tony Fernandes said he would like Airbus to re-engine the A330. New engines like the GEnx or Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 developed for the 787 could offer a 12%–15% fuel burn improvement, and sharklets at least 2%.
Airbus sales chief John Leahy's argument was that the lower purchase price of an A330 even without new engines make the economics of buying an A330 competitive at midrange routes with that of the Boeing 787. An A330neo would accelerate the demise of the similarly-sized A350-800. Airbus also considered re-engining the A380 but was wary of having two major modification programs simultaneously.
In March 2014, Delta Air Lines expressed an interest in the A330neo to replace its aging, 20+-year-old Boeing 767-300ER jets. In the 250-300-seat market, CIT Group believes an A330neo enables profitability on shorter ranges where the longer-range A350 and Boeing 787 aren't optimized. Steve Mason, CIT vice president for aircraft analysis, said: "The A350-800 is not as efficient as they'd like". Steven Udvar-Hazy, chairman and CEO of Air Lease Corp., said, "We don't believe it is rational for us to take the A350-800 and the A330neo [...] I don't see the A350-800 surviving if they do the A330neo".
AirAsia X flights to London and Paris from Kuala Lumpur were scrapped in 2012 because their Airbus A340s weren't fuel-efficient enough; AirAsiaX will try again with A330s. As Airbus gradually increases output of the new A350, prolonging the production run of the A330 could help to maintain profitability. As Emirates cancelled 70 orders for the A350, Airbus said it continued to work on re-engining the smaller A330.
On 14 July 2014 at the Farnborough Airshow, Airbus launched the A330neo programme, to be powered by the new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000. It will improve the fuel burn per seat by 14%. Airbus hopes to sell 1,000 A330neo aircraft. Its range will increase by 400 nautical miles (740 km) and although 95% of the parts will be common with the A330ceo, maintenance costs will be lower. New winglets, 3.7 metres wider and similar to those of the A350 XWB, still within ICAO category E airport requirements, along with new engine pylons, will improve aerodynamics by 4%.
Its development costs will have an impact of around −0.7% on Airbus's return on sales target from 2015 to 2017, an estimated $2 billion (£1.18 billion). Airbus thinks lower capital cost makes the A330neo the most cost-efficient medium-range wide-body aircraft in the market. Airbus says that it can pursue demand for 4,000 aircraft and says there is an open market for 2,600 jets not already addressed by backlogs with operators already using A330s. Aerodynamic modifications are to include a re-twisted wing and optimised slats.
For The Airline Monitor's Ed Greenslet, the A330neo would have the advantage of not being designed to fly 8,000 nmi, unlike the A350 and Boeing 787 which are thus less economical on shorter routes, although "the vast majority of long-haul markets is 4,000 nmi or less". "An A330neo would enjoy a monopoly in its segment instantly", with the Boeing 767 "essentially out of production", the Boeing 757 not replaced while the A321neo and the 737-9 are smaller and have less range. Launching the A330neo would probably kill the smallest A350-800.
John Leahy estimates that the A330-900 will have operating costs on par with the 787-9, but will be available at 25% lower capital costs and can reach a production rate of 10 per month after a 7/8 per month rate at the production start. Both A330neo variants are to have a maximum take-off weight of 242 t. The type design was frozen in late 2015.
Boeing Vice Chairman and Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner dismissed the A330neo as a 2004 revamp which cannot match the 787's direct operating costs, being 20,000 lb (9.1 t) heavier with its slightly improved 1980 wing, and claims the 787-10 is almost 30% more efficient per-seat than the previous A330-300 and a new engine will not close the gap – but he acknowledged that it can be a threat as it puts pressure on Boeing as it seeks to break even after 850-1,000 787 deliveries.
On 7 September 2015, Airbus announced that it had begun production of the first A330neo with the construction of its centre wingbox and engine pylon. Final assembly of the first aircraft, an A330-900, started in September 2016 at the Toulouse Line with the station 40 centre fuselage and wings join. In December 2016, the program schedule slipped by six weeks due to marginal engine development at Rolls-Royce, and launch customer TAP Air Portugal projected its first A330neo would be delivered in March 2018.
The first aircraft left the paint shop in December 2016, awaiting its engines. Its first flight was delayed until September 2017 after the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000s were installed during the summer. After this delay, TAP Air Portugal was expected to receive the first A330neo at the end of the first half of 2018, or even in the third quarter. The engines were shipped to Airbus in June. The aircraft complete with engines showed at Toulouse in September before its first flight.
Major structures of the first A330-800 were entering production in October 2017: high-lift devices are installed on the wing in Bremen, fuselage sections are built in Hamburg, the centre wing-box in Nantes, titanium engine pylons in Toulouse and sharklet wingtips in Korea. Its final assembly started in November 2017, on track for its planned first flight in mid-2018. Structural assembly was completed by February 2018, having its flight-test instruments installed and waiting for its engines before its 300h flight-test programme. At this time, production aircraft progressed through the final assembly line with the first 'Airspace' cabin interior being fitted.
The A330-900 first flight on 19 October 2017 debuts the 1,400 hours flight test campaign involving three prototypes plus the first production aircraft: 1,100 flight hours for the A330-900 and 300 flight hours for A330-800, targeting mid-2018 EASA and FAA Type Certification. The 4h 15m flight reached 30,125 ft (9,182 m) and 502 kn (930 km/h). It should establish certain maximum operating points and achieve an initial handling qualities assessment including at high angle of attack. This first aircraft, MSN1795, was scheduled to perform 600 h and was to be joined the following month by the second, MSN1813, which will fly 500 h, before the third, MSN1819, the first customer aircraft for TAP Portugal with a complete cabin.
Two flight-test engineers and two engine specialists monitored the 60GB per hour output of 1,375 sensors and 98,000 parameters, including strips of microelectromechanical systems to measure aerodynamic pressure distribution across the wing. MSN1795 was to undertake simulated icing tests and cold-weather tests in Canada, noise assessment, autoland testing and high angle-of-attack, minimum-unstick checks during rotation with a tail bumper. MSN1813 was to test natural icing, assess hot and high conditions in the United Arab Emirates and La Paz and fly 150h of route-proving; it has rakes and pressure sensors in the engine flows to compare actual thrust with ground bench measurements. MSN1819 was to validate the Airspace cabin interior fitting with artificial passengers for ventilation analysis and cabin environment measurements.
The second test aircraft made its maiden flight on 4 December, to be used to validate aerodynamic & engine performance and airline operations. By the end of January 2018, the first logged almost 200h in 58 flights while the second had accumulated nearly 120h in 30 flights. Its flight envelope was fully opened including flutter and stall tests to complete powerplant calibration and strake configuration has been frozen. Airbus commenced autopilot, autoland and high-speed performance testing, and was to move on to hot- and cold-weather tests, as well as noise and icing tests, over the following three months. As of 10 April 2018, the two test aircraft had logged over 200 flights and more than 700 hours, testing −27 °C cold weather, natural icing, crosswind landing, 37 °C and 8,000 ft (2,400 m) hot and high operations.
The first TAP Air Portugal aircraft made its first flight on 15 May 2018; it joined the two previous test aircraft to check the cabin systems: air conditioning, crew rest, etc. It started the final certification step on 18 June: function and reliability tests or route proving, including ETOPS, diversion airport landing and testing ground handling over 150 flight test hours, as the flight test programme reached 1,000 hours. Entry into service was planned for the third quarter of 2018 and ETOPS was to be approved in October for 330min.
EASA granted the A330-941 type certificate on 26 September 2018, with ETOPS not yet approved. ETOPS 180 min was approved on 14 November, restricted to engines with fewer than 500 flight cycles. Airbus expects the FAA type certification with 180 min ETOPS by the end of 2018 and 330 min ETOPS in the first half of 2019. Beyond-180min ETOPS was approved by the EASA by 24 January 2019.
The maiden flight of the -800 took place on 6 November 2018; the 4h 4min flight inaugurated a 350h test program aiming for mid-2019 type certification, for delivery in the first half of 2020 to launch operator Kuwait Airways. By late March 2019, it was halfway through the 300 hours flight-test programme, having completed 44 flights in 149 hours. On 30 October 2019, Airbus announced that certification of the -800 would occur in early 2020.
Leased from Avolon, the first A330-900 was delivered to TAP Air Portugal on 26 November 2018, featuring 298 seats: 34 full-flat business, 96 economy plus and 168 economy seats, and to be deployed from Portugal to the Americas and Africa. TAP made its first commercial flight on 15 December from Lisbon to São Paulo. The airline should receive 15 more A330neos in 2019 and fly the A330-900 from Lisbon to Chicago O'Hare and Washington Dulles from June 2019, both five times a week.
The larger 112-inch Trent 7000 is 11% more efficient than the 97.5-inch Trent 700 engine, a 2% loss is due to increased weight and 1% due to additional drag from the larger engine, but the sharklets and aero optimization regains 4% for a 12% fuel advantage per trip. Furthermore, fuel consumption per seat is improved by 2% due to the rearranged cabin (Space-Flex and Smart-Lav) with increased seating, offering a 14% fuel burn reduction per seat for the new −900neo compared to the previous 235-tonne −300 version. The newer 242-tonne −300 is already 2% more efficient.
Airbus unveiled a distinctive cockpit windscreen to be featured on the A330neo, similar to that on the A350, and promised a new interior concept offering a better passenger experience on the A330neo. Initially based on the largest 242t MTOW A330, Airbus is studying an improvement to 245 t (540,000 lb) MTOW for the A330neo, which would match the figure originally given for the Airbus A350-800 before it was sidelined in favor of the A330neo. This would give the -900 a 7,000 nmi (12,964 km) range to better compete with the 787-9’s 7,635 nmi (14,140 km)
On the occasion of the 19 October 2017 first flight, an increase to 251 t (553,000 lb) MTOW by mid-2020 was announced, with a few changes to the landing gear and brakes, increasing its range by 700 or 1,000 nmi (1,300 or 1,900 km) compared to the current A330neo or A330ceo. The 251t MTOW was confirmed by Airbus in November 2017. This gave the -900 a range of 7,200 nmi (13,300 km) and 8,150 nmi (15,090 km) for the -800.
Since the fan is enlarged from 97 to 112 in (250 to 280 cm), the nacelles are mounted higher, necessitating extensive CFD analysis to avoid supersonic shock wave interference drag, as is the first slat's dog-tooth. The wing twist and belly fairings are tweaked to approach the lowest drag elliptical span-wise pressure distribution changed by the larger sharklets, like the flap track fairings shape to lower form drag.
On the -800 at FL400, cruise fuel flow at Mach 0.82 and low weight is 4.7 to 5.2 t (10,000 to 11,000 lb) per hour at a higher weight and Mach 0.83.
Candidate engines included variants of Rolls-Royce's Trent 1000 and General Electric's GEnx-1B. Both engine makers were reportedly interested in winning an exclusive deal should a re-engined A330 be offered. The Trent 1000 TEN (Thrust, Efficiency, New Technology) engine is under development for the 787-10, but Rolls-Royce intends to offer a broad power range.
The A330neo will use the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engine, which is an electronic controlled bleed air variant of the Trent 1000 used on the Boeing 787-10. It will have a 112 in (284 cm) diameter fan and a 10:1 bypass ratio. They will deliver a thrust of 68,000 to 72,000 pounds-force (300 to 320 kN).
The Trent is the exclusive powerplant, as Rolls-Royce offered better terms to obtain exclusivity. Customers bemoan the loss of competition among engine makers: Steven Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corporation, said that he wants a choice of engines, but Airbus has pointed out that equipping a commercial aircraft to handle more than one type of engine adds several hundred million dollars to the development cost. The head of Pratt and Whitney said: "Engines are no longer commodities...the optimization of the engine and the aircraft becomes more relevant."
The decision to offer the aircraft with only one engine option is not unique to Airbus; the Boeing 777X will come equipped exclusively with General Electric GE9X engines, after Rolls Royce made a bid with its Advance configuration but was not selected.
The A330-800neo and A330-900neo retain the fuselage lengths of the A330-200 and A330-300, respectively. Cabin optimisation allows ten additional seats on the A330-900neo (310 passengers) and six additional seats for the A330-800neo (252 passengers) with 18-inch-wide economy seats. The -800 should have a range of 7500 nmi (13,900 km) with 257 passengers (406 max) while the -900 should travel 6550 nmi (12,130 km) with 287 passengers (440 max). As the variants share 99% commonality, developing the smaller -800 has a negligible extra cost.
Further reconfiguration of cabin facilities enables the –900 to seat up to 460 passengers in an all-economy layout. This exceeds the existing 440-seat maximum exit limit allowed by the type certificate, and requires a modification of the Type-A exit doors to meet emergency exit requirements. In November 2019, maximum accommodation increased to 460 seats, through the installation of new 'Type-A+' exits, with a dual-lane evacuation slide.
After the first flight of the -900 on 19 October 2017, Hawaiian Airlines (then the only customer for the -800) considered changing its order for six -800s, seeking to best fit its current network to Asia and North America whilst allowing for future growth, possibly to Europe. Demand for the -800 demand fell to 3%, whereas the -200 commanded 40% of the ceo deliveries: its range advantage has eroded with the increased capabilities of the -900, and although it offers lower fuel per trip, fuel per seat is higher.
Demand for the -800 is limited by low fuel prices and the fact that the -200s it might replace after 2020 are still young (nine years on average). The Boeing 767-300/400s that the -800 might replace are 15 years older, and while Boeing considered relaunching production of the 767-300ER, mainly as an interim for American and United airlines, this was complicated by a 30-year-old design including obsolete cabin amenities. Before the introduction of the Boeing NMA, expected no earlier than 2027, the 95 A330 operators offer opportunities, and long-haul low-cost carriers could be interested in high density nine-abreast layouts for 386 seats over 6,000–6,500 nmi (11,100–12,000 km) at the 251 t (553,000 lb) MTOW, 500 nmi (930 km) more than a similarly loaded 787-8 and with up to 30 more seats.
Production of the -800 beyond the prototype was in doubt, as Hawaiian was choosing between the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 787-8/9. In February 2018, Hawaiian was thought to be cancelling its order for six A330-800s, replacing them with Boeing 787-9s priced at less than $100–115m, close to their production cost of $80–90m, while Boeing Capital released Hawaiian from three 767-300ER leases well in advance. Hawaiian denied that the order for the A330-800 had been cancelled, but did not dismiss a new deal with Boeing. In March 2018, Hawaiian confirmed the cancellation of its order for six A330-800s and ordered ten B787-9s instead. Airbus says it was "simply undercut in price".
In July 2018 a new memorandum of understanding from Uganda National Airlines Company for two -800s revived interest in the shorter variant. A firm order from Kuwait Airways for eight A330-800s followed in October 2018; it was subsequently confirmed that Kuwait Airways would be the launch customer for the -800, with certification expected in mid-2019 and first deliveries in the first half of 2020. On 8 April 2019, Uganda National Airlines Company firmed up its order for two -800s.
Compared to the competing 787-8 with similar engines, the A330-800 has a 1% fuel-per-trip disadvantage (−5% due to being heavier but +4% due to the longer wingspan) but consumes 4% less fuel per seat with 13 more seats in an eight-abreast configuration, and 8% less with 27 more seats at nine-abreast with 17 in (43 cm) wide seats and aisles: the -800 is longer by 4 rows or 2.5 m (130 in).
Airbus could limit its MTOW to 200 t (440,000 lb) and derate its engines to 68,000 lbf (300,000 N) to optimise for the shorter routes to be targeted by the Boeing NMA, with the A321XLR tackling the lower end of the same niche.
Amazon.com and United Parcel Service pushed for a freighter version, stretching the A330-900 to carry more cargo over a shorter range, but retired 767s and A330s provide a lot of conversion potential.
Independent analysis for a 3,350 nmi transatlantic flight show the 787-9 has a slight advantage over the A330-900neo in cash cost per available seat miles, while the Airbus outperforms the Boeing once capital costs are included. They have close economics but the A330neo costs $30m less. An A330-900 is worth $115 million in 2018, while a new B787-9 valuation is $145 million, up from $135 million in 2014, but it may have been sold for $110–15 million to prevent A330neo sales.
Between the 2004 launch of the Dreamliner and the A330neo launch in 2014, the market was split almost equally between both, with between 900 and 920 A330ceos sold against 950 to 1,000 787-8/9s. Between 2014 and the neo first flight in October 2017, the A330/A330neo had 440 orders (excluding freighters) compared to 272 for the 787-8/9 (excluding the -10), or since the 787 launch, 1211 A330ceo/neos compared to 1106 787-8/9s. Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia believes that the A330neo should dominate the lower range and lower capacity end of the twin aisle market because the 787-8 has the high operating economics and unit price associated with its 8,000-nm range.
Flightglobal Ascend Consultancy forecasts 600 deliveries including 10% of -800 variants, less optimistic than Airbus' 1,000. At entry into service in 2018, sales were disappointing and A330 production is to be cut to 50 in 2019 down from 67 in 2017: while it is the widebody with the largest operator base with 1,390 deliveries since 1993, the fleet is still very young with only 46 aircraft retired. With the exception of Delta, industry-leading airlines prefer the Boeing 787. The A330neo was late to the market and 19% of A330 operators are already 787 customers; pessimistic forecasts are for 400 sales. The Boeing NMA should be more economical than the A330ceo while the A330-800 does not really cover the upper end of the Middle of the market.
Compared to a 283-seat, 9-abreast 787-9, Airbus claims a 1% lower fuel burn for the -900: 3% higher due to the 4–5 t (8,800–11,000 lb) higher OEW, but 4% lower due to the 4 m (13 ft) wider wingspan, and 3% lower fuel burn per seat in a 287-seat, 8-abreast configuration, reaching 7% with a 303-seat, 9-abreast layout.
Orders and deliveries
Cumulative A330neo orders and deliveries
|Operator||First commercial service||Number in service|
|Aircalin||30 July 2019||2|
|Air Mauritius||18 April 2019||2|
|Air Senegal||8 March 2019||2|
|Azul Brazilian Airlines||13 May 2019||2|
|Delta Air Lines||24 May 2019||4|
|Garuda Indonesia||18 November 2019||1|
|Hi Fly||3 September 2019||1|
|Lion Air||19 July 2019||4|
|TAP Air Portugal||26 November 2018||17|
|Thai AirAsia X||9 August 2019||1|
|Maximum seating||406||440 (up to 460)|
|Seat width||8-abreast economy: 18 in (46 cm)|
|Cabin width||5.26m / 17 ft 3in|
|Hold||136.0 m3 (4,800 cu ft)||162.8 m3 (5,750 cu ft)|
|Cargo capacity||27 LD3 or 8 pallets + 3 LD3||33 LD3 or 9 pallets + 5 LD3|
|Length||58.82 m (193.0 ft)||63.66 m (208.9 ft)|
|Height||17.39 m (57.1 ft)||16.79 m (55.1 ft)|
|Wing||64 m (210 ft) span, 7.270 m (23.85 ft) mean chord, 465 m2 (5,010 sq ft) area, 8.8 AR|
|MTOW||251 t (553,000 lb)|
|Max. Payload||44 t (97,000 lb)||44 t (97,000 lb)|
|OEW||132 t (291,000 lb)[a]||137 t (302,000 lb)[b]|
|Fuel capacity||139,090 l (36,740 US gal), 111,272 kg (245,313 lb)|
|Maximum speed||Mach 0.86 (496 kn; 918 km/h)|
|Range||8,150nmi / 15,094 km||7,200nmi / 13,334 km|
|Ceiling||41 450 ft (12 634m)|
|Engine (×2)||Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-72|
|Thrust (×2)||324.0 kN / 72,834 lbf (Take-Off)|
- proposed to United with 252 seats (51 first and business, 56 extra-legroom economy and 145 economy)
- proposed to United with 303 seats (57 first and business, 32 extra-legroom economy and 214 economy)
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Airbus A330neo.|
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