Airbus Industrie A330 – Introduction

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Airbus A330

The Airbus Industrie A330 is a twin jet passenger transport which also has a freight derivative as well.

QANTAS A330 climbing out at Sydney_1_s

A QANTAS Airbus A330 200 climbs out from runway 34L at Sydney Airport

Having been launched in 1993 there have been almost 900 built to date.

The Airbus Industrie A330 is one of the more graceful airliners, with it’s generous wingspan which almost equals that of the Boeing 747, but with a lesser area. In place of the typical Airbus wing fences at the wing tips, the A330 sports winglets adding to her grace.

China Airlines Airbus A330 lands at Sydney_3_s

A China Airlines Airbus Industrie A330 300 lands at Sydney.

This wide-body jetliner was first conceived in the 1970s as a replacement for Airbus Industries launch aircraft, the A300. Airbus also were planning a four engine jetliner at this time for trans oceanic services. At this time the certification of twin jets to fly extended over-water routes was in its early days. ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operation) determined that before the aircraft type could be certificated to fly further than a given time from the nearest alternative airfield a certain number of proven flying hours had to be clocked up. Airbus used the combined hours of the entire fleet of its launch customers to log up these hours. The hours to achieve the ability to fly 120 minutes from an alternative was 25,000 hours flown and that for 180 minutes from an alternative was 50,000 hours flown.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 rotates at Sydney_s

A Cathay Pacific Airbus Industrie A330 300 registration B-LAI rotates for take off on runway 34L at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport.

Airbus found that Asian carriers favoured the four engine layout and was a ready market for the A340 quad jet, whilst the US market favoured twin jets. The A330 and A340 names were swapped around so that the four engined aircraft had a four in its name.

The fuselage barrel for the A330 and A340 as well as the wing configuration was the same for both aircraft thereby reducing development costs and ensuring parts interchangeability. The fly by wire cockpit with side control stick that was pioneered on the A320 family of aircraft was also applied to the A330 and A340. This standardisation of Airbus flight-decks enables flight crew to transfer between the aircraft types with only a weeks training. This is a great saving to airlines, not having their crews tied up in training for long periods of time.

Philippines Airbus A330 taxi for 34L at Sydney_2_s

A Philippine Airlines Airbus Industrie A330 300 registration RP-C8765 taxis for runway 34L at Sydney. Note the take off configuration of the flaps and leading edge slats.

A330neo

With over 1,200 A330s produced and over 200 in order backlog, the A330 is still a very successful and relevant airliner in todays’ market. With the advent of the Boeing 787 and the Air A350 XWB however, the goal posts have been moved with new technology allowing for dramatic operating cost savings.  

To this end, Airbus announced at the Farnborough airshow on 14 July 2014 (yes, Bastille Day) that they were launching the Airbus A330neo project. NEO stands for New Engine Option and this then dubbed the current A330 models as CEOs, Current Engine Options.  The A330neo will come in two variants; the A330 800neo and the A330 900neo. For the neo, Airbus has settled on an agreement with Rolls Royce to use the Rolls Royce Trent 7000.  There will be only one engine type offered with the neo, with a possibility that other options may come available around 2020.

While the name neo focuses on the updated engine, it is not the only new feature of this updated A330. Other improved features include; winglets that are based on the A350 design, longer wingspan, improved engine pylons and cockpit windows in the same design as the A350. The design improvements, according to Airbus, will deliver a 14% fuel saving per seat which makes the A330neo the most economical mid range airliner.

The A330 800neo is the replacement for the A330 200ceo and the A330 900neo is the replacement for the A330 300ceo. Airbus had to be careful not to water down their A350 order book with the upgrade of the A330, but pressure by airlines such as; Air Asia X and Delta Airlines for an updated and re-engined A330 was intense.

The projected first flight of the A330neo is for mid 2016, with introduction into service toward the end of 2017.

Delta Airlines is the launch customer for the A330 900neo with an order for 25 aircraft. Hawaiian Airlines was the first to order the A330 800neo with an order for 6 units.

Visit our A330 Specs page to see the difference between the members of the A330 family.

If there is more you want to learn about this airliner, please visit: A330 Specs, A330 Assembly, A330 Order Book and A330 History.
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