The first A330-800neo took off on the morning of November 6 from the airport of Toulouse, France, where the main Airbus plant is. The aircraft is the smallest version of the new A330neo series, which is expected to debut in the next few days with the recently certified A330-900. The inaugural flight of the jet is the first of a test stage that should last about 300 hours of flight.
The launch of the new A330-800 in commercial aviation is scheduled for 2019. Airbus has yet to set an exact date for the launch of the aircraft. The new jet of the A330neo series, despite promising a good performance, still has no confirmed customer. So far the European manufacturer has obtained a letter of intent from the Kuwait Airways company. The larger A330-900, on the other hand, already has more than 150 units ordered.
The A330-800neo was developed to replace the A330-200, launched in 1998 and with about 660 units delivered. The new jet maintains the same length (58.8 m) and passenger capacity (257 to 406) of its predecessor, but has gained solutions to fly over distances, traveling up to 15,094 km (8,150 nautical miles).
The main changes in the A330-800 are the larger wingspan (from 60 meters to 64 meters), new-generation winglets (which Airbus calls the “Sharklets”), and Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines capable of generating more power with lower fuel consumption.
According to Airbus, the effect of the new technologies on the A330neo is a 14% reduction in fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs, as the new aircraft still shares about 95% of the A330’s first-generation components.
Competitor for the 787
If the new Airbus project proves its capabilities, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner can win a difficult competitor. Although not as advanced as the American jet, the A330neo, with its suggested ability to fly for more than 15,000 km, outperforms all versions of the 787 in autonomy – in passenger capacity it loses only to the 787-10.
The range of the A330-800 can even cause up to a migration effect of the A350-900, which has similar autonomy (though transport more passengers), but higher operating costs.
The price of the A330-800, valued at $ 259.9 million, may also attract operators. The new Airbus jet is cheaper than the 787-9 and 787-10, which cost between $ 281.6 million and $ 325.8 million – the A350-900 costs about $ 317 million.