The first A330neo took off this morning at Blagnac in Toulouse, France today, for its maiden flight. The aircraft, MSN1795, is a A330-900 and the first of three certification flight-test aircraft to fly, powered by the latest technology Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 turbofans.
The A330neo’s certification development programme itself will last around 1,400 flight-test hours. This will comprise 1,100 flight hours for the A330-900 campaign – to achieve its respective EASA and FAA Type Certification around the middle of 2018; plus 300 flight hours for A330-800 version – which will be certified in 2019. Overall, the full A330neo Family flight-test campaign will be performed by three certification flight-test aircraft, plus the first production aircraft (the latter to validate the Airspace cabin prior to EIS).
"The A330 was a fantastic workhorse but with a deficit of fuel-burn compared with the A350 and 787, and our customers asked us if we could make it work," Airbus Commercial Aircraft President Fabrice Bregier told Aviation Business. "In 2014, we realised we could modify the engines and wings to bring a 14% reduction in fuel-burn and bring it in line with the A350 and B787."
Cannibalisation with the A350 isn't a threat, according to Bregier. "I support both aircraft equally, and the A330neo will give us more flexibility. The 330neo has lower capital costs versus the higher range and capabilities of the A350. Pilots too can move across to flying both without much of a difference."
Launched in July 2014, the A330neo’s two versions–the A330-800 and A330-900–will accommodate 257 and 287 passengers respectively in a three-class seating layout. They are powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, accommodate up to 10 more seats, offer new “Airspace” cabin amenities, and feature a new larger span wing with Sharklet wingtip devices.