MIAMI – The production of the Airbus’ newest version of its successful A330 program is entering the final steps before producing the second, smaller variant of the type.
The A330-800neo is the second member of the A330neo family and its final assembly is planned by the end of 2017 and the maiden flight by 2018.
The -800neo has just begun the initial assembly process with a new increased-span wing and fuselage sections—some of the most distinctive items on this aircraft.
The A350-inspired composite sharklets are manufactured by Korean Air’s Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD), whereas the engines that will power up the aircraft are the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000.
The assembly of most of the aircraft’s parts takes place at different Airbus sites throughout Europe. The increased-span wing was equipped in Bremen and the fuselage sections in Hamburg, both in Germany. The titanium pylons were made in Toulouse facility and the center wing box in Nantes, France.
Currently, all A330s are built on the same production line in Toulouse, France.
Both the A330-800 and -900, will retain the fuselage lengths of the A330-200 and -300, respectively, sharing a 99% commonality and type ratings for pilots.
The cabin of the aircraft will seat 10 additional passengers on the -900, (total of 310), and six additional passengers on the A330-800, coming up to 252.
Airbus is also getting ready for the A330-900’s maiden flight. The European manufacturer expects to deliver its first A330neo to launch customer, TAP Portugal in mid-2018. The carrier has 14 A330neos on order.
According to Airbus, the A330-800 and -900 will have 14% less fuel burn per seat compared to the current A330. Maintenance costs will also see a decrease along with an improved operational reliability of 99.5%.
The A330neo product will also feature Airbus’ new Airspace cabin inspired on the A350 XWB’s current design. This cabin boasts wider galleys, overhead bins, mood lighting, and is much quieter than previous generation airliners.
Airbus has already six orders for A330-800 from Hawaiian Airlines and 204 orders for A330-900 from different carriers and lessors: 25 from Delta Air Lines, 66 from Air Asia X, 14 from TAP Portugal, 14 from Garuda Indonesia, 2 from Arkia Israeli Airlines, 28 from Iran Air, 15 from CIT Group, 15 from Avolon and 25 from Air Lease Corporation.
According to Airbus, the A330 Family has 1,700 orders and 1,300 aircraft have been delivered to 117 customers worldwide.