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The A330-800 takes off (photo: Airbus)

New A330neo makes maiden flight

The first A330-800 has taken to the skies, after the larger A330-900 recently completed development testing. But what can it do?

The first A330-800 development aircraft to fly, MSN1888 has landed at Airbus’ local airport, Toulouse-Blagnac in France, after successfully completing its first flight.

The aircraft is the second member of the A330neo family and is powered by the latest Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 turbofans. The development programme ahead will include around 300 flight-test hours, which Airbus hopes will pave the way for certification in 2019.

The crew in the cockpit for the four-hour flight included two experimental test pilots and a test-flight engineer.

“The A330-800 is an exceptionally versatile ‘route-opener’, offering unbeatable economics for airlines – encompassing everything from short to very-long haul widebody missions,” said Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft.

The larger A330-900 recently completed its development testing and certification programme, which validates the A330neo family’s common engines, systems, cabin and flight and ground operations.

What it does
The widebody A330neo comprises two versions, both of which carry Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, nacelle, titanium pylon, new wings and the “exclusive ‘Airspace by Airbus’ passenger experience”, which focuses on the core areas of comfort, ambience, service and design. It even has the option for airlines to put beds in the cargo hold.

The larger A330-900 will accommodate up to 287 seats in a three-class layout, while the A330-800 will typically seat 257 passengers in three classes.

By the end of September, Airbus’ orderbook included 13 customers that have placed orders for a total of 224 A330neos, “with more to be added soon”, the manufacturer says.

Based on the A330-200, which itself has sold more than 650 aircraft, the new -800 version offers a greater range capability of up to 8,150nm – similar to the A350 – and representing more than 17 hours flying time.

Airbus maintains that this performance will enable more non-stop routes, for example, from Southeast Asia to Europe and transpacific routes from Southeast Asia to the US West Coast.

“With its superior economics, range, cabin comfort and passenger experience versus the 787-8, the A330-800 is also best placed to replace ageing 767s in the near-term, and eventually the older A330-200s in service,” Airbus claims.

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