MIAMI — The first Airbus A330-900neo for Delta Air Lines has taken off on its first test flight out of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in Southern France.
The brand-new A330neo, which is set to become Delta’s newest twin-aisle airliner, performed a five hour, 54 minute flight around Southern France.
On May 4, 2019, the plane was subject to traditional high-speed taxi and rejected take-off tests on the airport’s main runway. Following the manufacturer’s approvals, the plane was cleared to perform today’s first flight.
Airways staff photographer, Clément Alloing, was there to capture the airliner becoming airborne for the first time.
This particular airframe rolled out of the assembly line back in November 2018—the same day when Delta confirmed that an additional 10 A330neos had been ordered.
Today’s flight saw the plane leaving Toulouse early morning, performing numerous fly-by’s over Southern France at 12,000ft.
About two hours into the flight, the pilots climbed the aircraft to 31,000ft, and then to 41,000ft, where it stayed for about one more hour. The flight path took the airliner over to northwestern France, near La Rochelle.
The successful flight ended almost six hours after departing Toulouse, signaling that the delivery date for Delta’s first A330neo is rapidly approaching.
Looking Back At The Delta A330neo Order
On November 19, 2014, Delta announced a major order for 50 new Airbus widebody aircraft, including 25 A330-900neos and 25 A350-900s.
The order represented, at the time, an important victory for Airbus over rival Boeing, who had been pitching its Boeing 787-9 and five new Boeing 777-200LRs as a stopgap offer until 787-9 delivery slots opened up.
The A330neo order also marked the conclusion of an RFP (request for proposals) issued by Delta in spring 2014 to replace portions of its Boeing 767 and Boeing 747 fleet, the latter of which was retired by the end of 2017.
The US carrier, looking to reaffirm its status as one of the world’s most efficient operators of Airbus wide-body fleets, later placed an order for ten additional A330-900neos on November 14, 2018—exactly four years after opening the sales books of the re-engined A330 program.
“Expanding our A330 order book not only ensures that Delta’s near-to-medium-term widebody needs are taken care of but also drives our strategic, measured international growth,” said Gil West, Delta’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
The launch operator of the type, however, was TAP Portugal, who took delivery of the first A330-900neo in November 2018.
Following TAP Portugal, Air Mauritius and Air Senegal have taken delivery of their brand-new A330neos. And just recently, Air Calin saw its first plane roll out of the assembly line sporting its updated livery.