The newest evolution in Airbus’ market-leading widebody jetliner product line – the A330 with an increased 242-tonne maximum takeoff weight capability – is another step closer to entering service later this year after its successful maiden flight.
Taking off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport today, the A330-300 variant carried out an airborne evaluation that concluded with its return to the southwestern France location – which is home to Airbus headquarters and the A330 final assembly line.
During the flight, a five-person crew – comprised of Captain Thierry Bourges and First Officer Jean-Louis Rabilloud, along with flight test engineers Joan Andre, Alain Pourchet and Gert Wunderlich – checked the jetliner’s flight control system and validated its flight envelope. This activity kicked off the increased takeoff weight A330-300’s flight test campaign, which is to involve some 15 total hours aloft to confirm its new aerodynamic package and performance.
The increased maximum takeoff weight A330 results from Airbus’ focus on incremental innovation, and will further increase the cost-effectiveness and versatility for its popular twin-engine A330 product line. Operators will benefit from these jetliners’ additional range and fuel-burn reduction, resulting from a combination of improved engine performance and the aircraft’s enhanced aerodynamics.
The 242-tonne A330-300 maximum takeoff weight variant launch customer is U.S.-based Delta Air Lines, which is scheduled to take delivery of its first aircraft in the second quarter of this year. The shorter-fuselage A330-200 in the 242-tonne configuration is planned to enter commercial service in early 2016.
In addition to Delta Air Lines, eleven customers worldwide have already selected this option since the launch in November 2012.
Airbus’ latest A330 variant is the basis for the A330neo (new engine option) version – which will incorporate new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 powerplants and aerodynamic improvements to provide unmatched operating economics, along with the latest in cabin technology.