MIAMI — Airbus has announced changes to the current production rate of its A330 program, by adjusting the current output from six to seven aircraft per month in 2017. A year ago, the production was decreased from 10 aircraft to six, due to expected slowing demand for the A330ceo (current engine option) in advance of the NEO (new engine option), the next generation of the airliner.
According to a statement, this production rate increase is in response to “the new commercial successes” achieved by the airframer. Recently, Airbus scored a major order with Iran for over 100 aircraft, including 45 A330s. As of January 31, 1,610 A330 have been ordered with a backlog for 349 aircraft. Of these, 163 correspond to the A330ceo, or current engine option.
The new output rate adjustment would allow Airbus to a smooth transition without slot production gaps to the A330neo, expected to enter into service at the end of 2017.
“The A330 has enjoyed additional commercial success in China, Saudi Arabia and South Africa among other countries. Add to that healthy demand for the MRTT military derivative and you have an order book that can easily absorb an increase of one aircraft per month,” said Eric Zanin, Head of the A330 Family Program.
Despite the successful sales, Airbus is facing production and delivery challenges. In the case of its new A320neo narrowbody, cooling issues with the Pratt & Whitney PW 1100GTF engine have caused delays in the delivery of the aircraft. In the recent Singapore Air Show, Qatar Airways GCEO Akbar Al Baker bashed the engine maker and claimed compensation after rejecting the delivery of the first A320neos.
Also, in the case of the A350 XWB, the manufacturer has recently completed its Roger Béteille Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse, ahead of the production startup of its A350-1000. Airbus remains committed to ramp up the production and reach the proposed goal of at least 50 A350s to be built in 2016.