Final A330neo analysis; cabin improvements gives the A330neo gains over today’s A330

When we did our analysis of the A330neo after the Farnborough launch we limited our checks to trip fuel efficiency as we did not have enough clarity of the cabin improvements that Airbus announced. After a meeting in Toulouse last week with Airbus cabin experts we know have the missing information.

Airbus gives the A330 cabin an interesting update for the A330neo. It comprises A330 ideas (improved crew rests), A350 ideas (improved lighting and IFE) and finally ideas tried out on the A320 (SpaceFlex and SmartLav lavatories). Combined they give the A330neo cabin a better passenger experience and improved utilization of cabin space.

We will now go through these improvements one by one to review the technology behind them and show how they affect the A330neo efficiency. Base for these comparisons are the A330 and A330neo cabin layouts we got from Airbus:

Airbus A330 and A330neo cabin layouts

Airbus A330 and A330neo cabin layouts

Improved cabin ambiance

Airbus introduces the LED mood lighting from the A350 but does not bring over other things like overhead bins etc. The mood lighting together with improved IFE options will improve passenger experience but it is already available as BFE (Buyer Furnished Equipment) on the A330ceo (e.g. Virgin Atlantic A330ceo’s have similar mood lighting):

Mood lighting in the A330neo business cabin

Mood lighting in the A330neo business cabin

Improved crew rest

The A330 cross-section does not have enough crown volume (top of fuselage space) to allow the cockpit and cabin crew rest modules to be placed above the main cabin area like for the A350, Boeing 787 or 777. Therefore Airbus has been confined to use cabin area crew rests or cargo bay modules accessed via staircases from the cabin. Older generation A330-300 have not had a strong requirement for crew rests as their practical endurance has been 8 hours (the limit in most Airworthiness jurisdictions for mandatory rest for crew members). When the A330-200 was introduced in 1998 it complemented the A330 for longer range missions which could span up to 12-13 hours. It thereby inherited the most popular crew rest solutions that were developed for the long-range A340. These consisted of a 2 bed closet for the pilots directly behind the cockpit door, there replacing the standard forward galley and a 3rd door placed staircase to a Lower Deck Movable Crew Rest (LDMCR). This crew rest is housed in an aft cargo hold LD36 container which holds 6 beds for cabin crew.

A330 and A330neo crew rest solutions.

A330 and A330neo crew rest solutions.

For the A330neo Airbus will develop an 8 bed lower deck crew rest for both flight and cabin crew, thereby removing the need to take cabin area for crew resting purposes. This frees the area behind the cockpit for galley use which in turn frees up an area equivalent to 4 economy seats in the cabin.

More flexible and narrower lavatories

Airbus has developed the SpaceFlex lavatory/galley concept and the SmartLav lavatory for the A320. These are now added to the A330neo cabin options to enable increased cabin efficiency also for long-haul. The SpaceFlex lavatory allows the combination of two normal lavatories to be combined into one PRM lavatory (PRM=Persons with Reduced Mobility). The PRM lavatory allows a wheelchair bound person to use the lav after cabin crew have folded away the separation wall to create one big lavatory.

SpaceFlex lavatory gains the A330neo 4 seats.

SpaceFlex lavatory gains the A330neo 4 seats

The person then use the one lav as the parking area for the wheelchair while sliding over to use the other lavatory. This dual lavatory module is more efficient then the PRM and normal lavatory it replaces, freeing up space equivalent to a little more than 2 seats.

Further space is found by introducing the narrower type lavatory which Boeing is introducing on the new Delta 737-900, there called “Modular lavatory”. Airbus variant is called SmartLav and is in development for the A320. They both redistribute space for plumbing/pumps from the lav’s sink side to a “dog-house” bulge in the non-occupied feet area of the last seat-row before the lav. They thereby can narrow down the system area on the sink side of the lavatory, this is combined with a narrow sink which is pushed further into the lavatories gangway.

Comparison of normal lavatory and SmartLav.

Comparison of normal lavatory and SmartLav.

The overall effect is a lav that occupies 15% less cabin length compared to today’s standard of 36 inch/0.92m. This gains the cabin 1/3 of a seat per lavatory so several lavatories have to be combined to gain a seat, but in the cabin of today every inch counts.

Does these gains exist in practice?

The Airbus cabin drawings are done so that gains realized by the changes could be combined to a total of 10 seats in the case of the A330-900 vs A330-300 and 6 seats for the A330-800 vs. A330-200. Would one also see these gains in an operator designed cabin? The gains from the changed crew rests are real, they free the space equivalent to 4 economy seats. The SpaceFlex lavatory is a nice solution to the problem of providing a PRM capable lavatory in the cabin, the effect is a gain of slightly more than 2 seats. Thereby Airbus has gained the 6 seat they need for their claimed increase of per seat fuel efficiency of A330-900 vs. A330-300 of 2%.

Airbus has also said that the total potential for a A330-900 would be an increase to 10 seat if SmartLav technology is added to the mix. This is more questionable as each SmartLav only gains 1/3 of a seat. In the example Airbus uses 4 SmarLavs (the rearmost lav is shorter and therefore stays the normal width) for a total gain of 1 and 1/3 seat. Together with the space left over from the SpaceFlex one might see a total of 2 further seats, should narrower lavs be acceptable for a long haul aircraft. We think it might be for the economy class but not for the 2nd and 3rd lavatory for the business class as in the Airbus example. The gains would then reduce to around 1 seat in addition to the 6 we gained before.


The 2% gain in per seat efficiency for the A330neo is plausible as this is gained before the question of narrower lavs comes into play. It will be up to each operator to decide if they want to introduce the SmartLav into long-haul, we doubt it will be allowed into the premium areas of the cabin. One could thereby say that Airbus claims for the A330neo would be substantiated, given that the 12% trip gain is correct. Our analysis with our proprietary model shows that the gains are plausible but only under the conditions given at launch, Airbus slides state “Datum is a A330-300 235t MTOW with Trent 772B engines Vs,” i.e. the variant flying today. The gain over the A330 242t ceo variant due in 2015 thereby stays at around 10% trip and 12% per seat on the given 4000nm mission.

Airbus still provide cabins for comparisons with a fixed business class of 36 seats both for the 250 seat and 300 seat segments, this makes their results non-comparable between the models. How this all stack up with more realistic average mission lengths, fully normalized cabins and how the final A330neo compares to Boeing’s 787 we will describe in our updated A330neo report, we now have all the details for this update.

By Leeham Co EU

41 Comments on “Final A330neo analysis; cabin improvements gives the A330neo gains over today’s A330

  1. “The gain over the A330 242t ceo variant due in 2015 thereby stays at around 10% trip and 12% per seat on the given 4000nm mission.”

    I think that’s fair, nobody will buy an 2018 NEO to replace an 2015 CEO.

      • According to Fabrice Brégier’s 2014 annual press conference presentation, p. 14, the fuel burn improvement is ‘up to 2%’. I believe there are some wing flap optimizations, and possibly some engine performance improvements. Somewhat perplexingly, the same slide also claims that the 242t ceo has +500nm more range than the 235t ceo, while the A330neo has +400nm – But then again, range estimates dependend so greatly on payload, diversion and wind assumptions.

        • One shall note that Airbus calculates the increased range for the A330neo with its increased payload, i.e. the A330-900 range is calculated with 310 passengers + bags instead of 300 for the A330-300ceo, an increase of 1t for the ZFW. The improved engines, wingtips and aero clean-up gains the A330neo range but the increased OEW and payload restricts that. For an apples to apples comparison one shall also calculate the range with equal payload, something we will do in our report.

        • I dont seem to be able to reply to Leehams comment under this post.
          Ten passenger more also requires ten more seats that also add weight. I dont know the exact weight for an economy class seat, maybe 30Kg? Så more like 1,3 ton and not 1 tons extra weight for ten passengers extra. And arent there required one more flight attendant for 310 passengers vs 300 passengers? So more like 1,4 ton extra weight.

          • Recaro Economy seats start at ~9kg/pax. LH’s 2010 introduced seats weigh in at 11kg/pax. For LongHaul today it should be below 15kg.

  2. Thank you for this very informative cabin analysis. I look forward to your updated A330neo report with more mission lengths and normalized cabins. It would be very interesting if you could include a commercial outlook; whether the A330neo will be as successful in the small widebody category as Udvar-Házy believes it will be.

  3. Airbus still has to sell the A330neo at a 25% discount, to compete with the 787.

    • Rick,
      Remember, unlike Boeing with the 787 Airbus don’t have to claw back $25-$30 billion in project costs. $30 billion spread out over the 1300 account block equates to some ~ $23 million per 787 produced and this assumes the project costs won’t rise and ignores the interest issues, so Boeing will be taking ~$25 hit per plane which makes the 25% discount seem cheap.

    • Doesn’t matter even if they do that since the line is fully amortized. Will ensure Boeing will take *forever* to break on the 787.

    • They said they expect to be selling it ~25% cheaper than the 787.
      Which is slightly different from what your statement.

      It should also be noted that Airbus themselves said this – i.e. they’re fully aware of the pricing levels they’re going to be looking at for the A330neo, and will have these taken into consideration in their business case.

      So really – not much to see here. Other than the basic fact that you can expect to be able to get an A330neo a few years before any 787, and ~25% cheaper.

    • Also with the € nosediving against the $ for the forseeable future Airbus gains more even more pricing flexibility against Boeing.

  4. Thanks for your analysis! Looking at all those “improvements” made by Airbus,flying in 10 Years in Y-class must be hell! People are getting bigger and taller these days and Airbus reduces the space for lavatories by almost 50 percent! Who needs LED mood lighting when your legs are hurting badly and there is no more room to move?
    All this for 10 additional seats,is this really progress?

    • It is not that bad, the crew rest and SpaceFlex makes the real gains and they do not take away any passenger area, it is just smarter use of the same space. The SmartLav does make your lav passage narrower to the seat but once there you have ample space. But, as we say, we doubt it will be universally used for long-haul. For short-haul LCC you can count on it but that is what we are telling the airlines to do, we vote with our money.

      • Hey,thanks for your quick response! I think this configuration should be fine for short haul LCC´s,but I remain skeptical for 10 hours+ flights.Just read some stories about “fighting” in Y-class due to limited space. Only time will tell,but as you said,the future customer will make the choice!

      • Following your explanation advantages appear to rise with a more economy centric layout.
        Q1: Any specific information attached to the “light green” seating areas ( rear, outboard )?
        Q2: No SpaceFlex lav on the -800 ?
        Q3: Any sense in temporarily removing the crew rest container for occasional dispatch on shorter routes?
        Permanent crew rest installations are just so much dead weight in that usage case.

        • Q1: No, just a miss coloring.
          Q2: Correct, we guess Airbus has the rule they don’t want lavs to face seat rows, with the changes for the -900 this was achieved, perhaps not so easy with the -800 layout they had.
          Q3: Airlines do, you need to disconnect intercom and electricity but then it is just a normal container to deplane and store.

    • Come on. How much time do you spend in the lavatories when you fly?

      • No time at all! Because some big Dude got stuck with his big butt inside one of this tiny loos!Check out the pics above! A new lav is the same size as two Y-seats!

        • If you fit on a Y seat you fit in one of these lavs. If not, my condolence 😉
          As it is I find the expandable by movable wall idea rather brilliant.

          Looking through my freshly opened beer bottle I see the next possibility for the likes of FR improving on profits ( and creating some screamers on the side ) :
          Initially use the lav seats as pax seats and then rotate those around the cabin
          while everybody else takes a leak 😉

  5. Thnx Scott great summary / analyses.

    Another big factor IMO; with most major operators introducing Economy Plus and many A330 users being leisure carriers, how many A330 NEO back cabins will become 9 abreast. And is Airbus developing the cabin to better facilitate 9 abreast instead of the current spacey 18.x inch wide 8 abreast A330 cabin?

    Of course 9 abreast on the A330 has been there for almost 20 years with leisure carriers, but maybe Airbus will find a few inch e.g. adjusting side panels making it more acceptable.. for carriers that introduced Economy Plus.

    If so, it can bring in 20-30 seats extra revenue seats “for free” changing the aircraft economics significantly.

  6. For as much as I love the idea of the Neo, I agree with the above comment. These smart lavs are unacceptable on a wide body plane. Airbus better be careful or this Neo is going to start smelling like a cheap alternative that is actually cheap and that no one will want.

    • The interior layout of any aircraft is down to the operator, isn’t it? What is described here are potential options, airlines don’t have to adopt them.

  7. To Leehamnet

    Thanks you for your response

    As for the Fuel Burn, I did not see any follow up to the provisional assessment issues severalweeks ago. If missed it, pls. send me a copy. Thanks

    My questions remain or are the following:

    1) Are the statements made by AB still validthat the A330neo is a only a re-engined and new winglets equipped version of A330ceo, at least from the technical view, especially regarding the no-use of composites and changes of the wing design??

    2) Which arethe supports of the alleged extraordinary high fuel burn improvement 4%??

    3) Accepting as a fact that the 7000 engine serie model of the Neo provides a efficiency improvement up to 10% in front of the 700 serie used in the present A330ceo **3a) is this valid only for the max range under full load?? **3b) the same for the alleged 4% provided by the winglets Note: is the full range to be named the figure valid for the Ceo or the extended one (if any) of the Neo?? 4) Has R-R confirmed that **4a) the 10% improvement as above refers to the engines only **4b) or includes the efficiency losses due to larger weight (3,200Kg?) and air resistence increase due the much larger diameter of the engines ?? ?? Note: I fail o say how the only engine builder R-R could guarantee 4b.)

    5) I have tried to attain the (real, not the “operating”) empty weights of A33-2-3 abd B787-8-9 and I am not find them. Could you be so knd to provide these (i.e no crew, no seats, no fuel, no cargo, no food, no etc)

    • otontisch: If I may, the answers to your questions are readily available from the A330neo presentation at Farnborough. In particular: (1) In lieu of information to the contrary, we must presume that the statements are still valid, (2) The performance numbers are contracually guaranteed to customers, (3) According to the presentation, at “Max passenger load, 4000nm mission” (p. 10), (4) See page 10 for details, (5) The OEMs provide a technical document, “Airplane Characteristics for Airport Planning”, that contains all data relevant for operation and maintenance of the aircraft. Beyond that, the OEMs may not be very forthcoming because of competitive reasons. In general, suppliers and OEMs continuously implement changes to reduce weight of components and structures, in some cases several times per year.

    • The wing of the A330Neo will not be new but “highly modified” according Bregier.

      1. the composite wingtips change aerodynamics and will increase wing span
      2. the wing itself will be twisted into a different shape

      • Anything on the wing body fairing?
        ( distrinctly changed appearance on the A350, looks like recent years improved on understanding aerodynamics in that area. )

      • According Bregier, in his interview when he presented the A330neo, , the only changes would be engines and wing tips. Probably because of the blogger remarks that 4% efficiency improvement seems irreal for the latter, now “”the wing itself will be “twisted” in a new shape””!!
        Is this not the same as to redisign it, meaning it will be a new one?? And would the very short time stated for the implementation of the neo, justified because it will only
        change engines and tips, not be jeopardizes by such resign and all its consequences??

        • Oton Tisch, you are answering your own question. If it was a dramatic redesign it wouldn’t be ready in 2017. FYI a 1.5° increase in A380 wing twist was introduced on the go, BA being the first user.

  8. can anyone explain to me that according to the certification data 787-9 carries the same amount of fuel as -8….is heavier…longer…yet flies farther than its sibling…how is it possible?

        • Well, the 789 has 25t more MTOW ( ( i.e. ~+20% in the “dynamic weights” department. OEW increase isn’t all that much. )
          Thus at the “max PAX+baggage” line the -9 can take significantly more fuel than the -8: voila: more range at nominal loads. Look at the second outer corner in payload-range diagrams that is where fuel limit starts, extreme case : A330-200.

  9. scott can u provide a comparison between a359 vs 789?…thats where the real battle seems to b brewing…delta n EK…both planes r in production & real data is available

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