In a move widely expected over the past few months, Airbus has launched the A330neo program.
The manufacturer announced the launch of the Airbus A330neo program on July 14 at the Farnborough International Airshow 2014.
It accompanied the announcement with the news that Los Angeles-based leasing company Air Lease Corporation (ALC) has become the launch customer for the Airbus A330neo family by signing a memorandum of understanding for 25 A330-900neo jets.
Air Lease Corporation’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Steven Udvar-Házy, is generally reckoned to be one of the three or four most influential aviation-industry executives in the world in terms of developing specifications for new commercial aircraft.
Udvar-Házy’s influence ‒ developed over almost four decades in his former position as CEO of International Lease Finance Corporation ‒ is so great that ALC’s immediate endorsement of the Airbus A330neo family with a 25-aircraft commitment can only be regarded as the strongest possible indication of the A330neo’s future sales success.
The Airbus A330-900neo is the larger of two versions of the A330neo which will be offered, the A330-800neo and the A330-900neo. These correspond, respectively, to the Airbus A330-200 and the A330-300, having the same fuselage sizes, but according to Airbus will be 14 per cent more fuel-efficient.
Airbus has optimized the cabin of each new version, allowing for up to 10 more seats in the A330-900neo and six additional seats in the A330-800neo – while maintaining the 18-inch-wide seat comfort standard in economy class.
With this increased seating, the A330-900neo will offer seating capacity for up to 310 passengers, while the shorter-fuselage A330-800neo will accommodate up to 252 travelers.
The Airbus A330neo family will feature incremental innovations, including aerodynamic enhancements. These will include new, A350 XWB-inspired winglets, a wing span increased by 3.7 meters (12.14 feet) – but which will still meet Category E airport docking-area requirements – and new engine pylons.
These aerodynamic refinements will produce a 4 per cent improvement in fuel-efficiency over current A330 models, another 10 per cent coming from the A330neo family’s new engines.
In addition to the 14 per cent overall fuel-burn reduction the A330neo family will offer over the current-generation Airbus A330 models, A330neos will also offer up to 400 nautical miles of additional range, along with decreased maintenance costs, Airbus says.
Drawing on the Airbus family aircraft concept, the A330neo will share more than 95 per cent spares commonality with existing Airbus A330 jetliners.
The A330neo family will have the latest-generation cockpit systems. Passengers will receive a 21st-century onboard experience with, for example, fourth-generation in-flight entertainment (including the ability to view 3D films). A330neo cabins will have full LED mood lighting and Wi-Fi broadband connectivity.
Both the Airbus A330-800neo and the A330-900neo will be powered exclusively by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines.
The Trent 7000 will be a new Trent version, and the seventh member of the Trent engine family. The majority of modern widebody aircraft, either in service or on order, are powered by Trent engines, according to Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce’s new Trent 7000 engine will have a 112-inch-diameter fan. It will incorporate experience from the Trent 700 (the engine most selected for the current A330 family), along with engine architecture from the Trent 1000-TEN ‒ a new version, designed for the Boeing 787-10, of the Trent 1000 engine which is one of two choices for the Boeing 787 family.
Derby, UK-based Rolls-Royce will also incorporate in the Trent 7000 new technology from the Trent XWB engine, which is the sole engine choice for the Airbus A350 XWB family. The manufacturer says the Trent XWB is the world’s most efficient large civil engine.
According to Airbus, the Trent 7000, which will deliver from 68,000lb to 72,000lb of maximum take-off thrust, will improve specific fuel consumption by 10 per cent over the Trent 700 family. It will also have twice the bypass ratio (offering a 10-to-1 bypass ratio) of the Trent 700 and will halve the perceived noise from the engine.
Airbus says it will draw on lessons learned from the successful development of the single-aisle A320neo. The company is planning an ambitious 42-month development program for the A330neo jetliner from its launch to the targeted first A330neo delivery in the fourth quarter of 2017.
“The A330 jetliner family offers a very, very solid base to build on,” says John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer – customers. Leahy says there is significant demand over the next 20 years for aircraft in the A30neo category from operators that are currently flying A330s.
“These are people who love the A330, are making a lot of money with A330 and have their pilots trained with the A330, but would like to have more fuel efficiency – that’s exactly what we are doing with this aircraft,” says Leahy.