By Bjorn Fehrm
November 6, 2018, © Leeham News in Toulouse. The Airbus A330-800, the smaller of the A330neo variants, took off for its first flight in Toulouse today. It’s the fourth member of the A330neo flight test campaign and it will add another 350 Flight Hours to the 1,400 hours flown with the A330-900.
Airbus used the occasion to make a review of the A330neo program.
The A330neo is designed to complement the A350 in Airbus’ widebody lineup. Through commonality for Air Crews and Passengers, Airbus will cover the market from 250 seats to 370 seats with four aircraft which share Pilot rating and Passenger experience.
The cabin on the A330neo has been upgraded to the same design and standard as the A350. The picture shows the A330neo cabin on the left and the A350 on the right.
Airbus is now getting more and more requests for A330neo nine-abreast economy layouts. It has therefore developed a cabin variant with nine 17 inch wide seats, featuring 17 inch wide aisles.
Depending on the type of economy section, the A330-800 can house about the same number of seats as a 787-8 or about 27 more as is shown in this example from the review.
With an advantage of 27 seats, the economics of the Boeing 787-8 and A330-800 change according to Airbus.
The fuel burn improvements for the A330-800 is coming from changes to the aircraft’s aerodynamics and improved engines.
The changes to the wing’s aerodynamics are significant. Through increased span and the resulting need to re-twist the wing, the pressure distribution has been brought even closer to the theoretically optimal elliptical shape.
The A330neo market
Compared to the present picture the A321 and A330 families now dominate this market segment.
The A321neo including A321LR and A330neo are designed to continue this domination according to Airbus.
The main market for the A330neo and especially the A330-800 is the replacement market for the 124 operators that today fly A330. This market opens now and peaks in seven years. The graph shows the build years for the present A330 generation with the EIS of the A330-900 set in with a 20 years average lifetime of these aircraft.
Right now Airbus has 224 orders for the larger A330-900 and eight A330-800 as Kuwait Airways became the first A330-800 customer last month after Hawaiian Airlines cancelled its order earlier this year.
Today’s first flight for the A330-800 is the start of a flight test campaign of about 350 Flight Hours. The sole A330-800 test aircraft will verify the flight dynamic differences which will result from a five-meter shorter fuselage.
Other aspects of the aircraft are already tested in the A330-900 flight test campaign, which was finished with Certification of the A330-900 at 26th of September. The first A330—900 will be delivered to TAP Portugal in the coming week.
There are presently 23 A330neo in Final Assembly in Toulouse. Out of the 23, four different Heads of Version (different Cabin layouts) have been achieved.