The very first A330neo, a -900 variant (MSN 1795) has recently rolled out of the paint shop with a brand new factory livery. This aircraft had entered the final assembly stages three months ago.
“The next steps in the production will take place as planned before starting the ground tests and flight in 2017, ” says Airbus.
In order for the new A330 family to be certified, Airbus planned to build two testbeds of the A330-900 and another smaller variant, the A330-800. According to Airbus, the two variants have 99 percent of the components in common and will share the A330 commonality up to 95 percent which is a huge advantage to operators.
The delivery date of this first aircraft is not known, but it has been announced for Q4 2017 for launch customer TAP Portugal. Analysts say this will be pushed to March 2018 due to problems with the new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engine.
According to Airbus, the new A330 will offer up to 14 percent in fuel savings compared to current members of the A330 family. This is attributed to the new Sharklet wingtip which is borrowed from the A350 XWB. These improvements also contribute to a total range increase of 400 nm while making the airplane more capable in terms of payload. Passengers will also notice quieter operations while airlines will notice a decrease in maintenance costs.
Other items that are borrowed from the A350 includes the new Airspace cabin which offers ambient LED cabin lighting and new entertainment systems. Another feature that is borrowed is the distinctive tinted windshield from the A350.
Like mentioned earlier, the A330neo will be exclusively powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 family which produce 68,000-72,000 lbs. of thrust while using ten percent less fuel than the current Trent 700 family powering the A330ceo. This engine is the seventh member of the Trent family, building on the Trent 700, Trent XWB, and Trent 1000 TEN.
As of November, the A330neo has a total of 186 orders for the two variants, the largest order being from Air Asia X with 66 A330-900s. Delta Air Lines and Air Lease Corp. have orders for 25 A330-900s, TAP Portugal with 14 A330-900s and Hawaiian Airlines ordering six A330-800s among other carriers with smaller orders.