Airbus is to offer a new lower-weight variant of its A330-300 widebody jet, the new version being optimized for use on domestic and regional routes in high-growth markets with large populations and concentrated traffic flows.
China will be one of the most important markets for this new shorter-range, high-seat-capacity version of the Airbus A330-300, according to Airbus.
Fabrice Bregier, president and CEO of Airbus, announced the launch of the new A330-300 version at the Aviation Expo China 2013 show, which opened its doors on September 25 in Beijing.
“The new lower weight A330-300 variant specially designed for regional and domestic use is Airbus’ solution for markets with large populations and fast-growing, concentrated air traffic flows,” says Bregier. “Operators of the new A330-300 variant will benefit from a proven, mature and reliable aircraft that brings relief to limited airspace, airport congestion and pilot shortage.”
Bregier adds: “We are announcing the new A330-300 lower weight variant today in China because here we see strong pent-up demand for efficient and reliable widebody aircraft connecting mega cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou.”
Compared to current A330-300 variants that are adapted to longer-range missions of up to 6,100 nautical miles (nm), the new A330-300 regional and domestic variant will be optimized to seat up to around 400 passengers in Airbus’ 18-inch wide economy seats on missions up to 3,000 nm.
The new lower-weight A330-300 will also offer significant cost savings through a reduced operational weight of around 200 tonnes, according to Airbus.
Airbus estimates the reduction in fuel burn per seat and maintenance costs resulting from the new version’s modifications will result in an overall operating cost reduction of up to 15 per cent compared with long-range A330-300 variants.
In addition, the new A330-300 variant will feature the latest Airbus A350 XWB and A380 technologies. These include cockpit equipment such as dual head-up displays and the latest navigational systems.
The cabin will also feature innovations such as modern slimline lightweight seats, high broadband Wi-Fi connectivity throughout, the newest in-flight entertainment systems allowing HD TV, and LED, full-color mood lighting.
Airbus’ announcement of the new, shorter-range A330-300 variant completes a full circle of development for the A330-300. The first A330s produced, A330-300s delivered in 1994, were 215-tonne, short-to-medium-range aircraft primarily intended ‒ in a successful market-targeting move ‒ for the intra-Asia market.
Some of those early, shorter-range A330-300s are still in service today with carriers such as Malaysia Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways.
However, while the new 200-tonne version will probably be externally identical to the early A330-300s (and other, longer-range A330-300 versions), its internal structure and tankage is likely to differ extensively from other A330-300s as a result of its reduced gross take-off weight.
Since the first A330-300s were delivered in 1994, Airbus has developed the A330-300 airframe into an aircraft which has true Europe-U.S. West Coast range capability. The manufacturer has increased the maximum gross take-off weight of the latest A330-300 long-range version ‒ recently ordered by Delta Air Lines ‒ to 245 tonnes.