Airbus has decided to offer further-enhanced versions of its strong-selling A330 widebody family by increasing the family’s maximum take-off weight capability to 240 metric tonnes.
This 240-tonne capability will be first applied to the larger Airbus A330-300 model and subsequently to the A330-200 and A330-200F, according to Airbus.
Airbus chose the occasion of the Farnborough International Airshow 2012 to announce its decision to develop the payload/range capability of the A330 family further.
The 240-tonne A330-300 will benefit from receiving up to 400 nautical miles of additional extra range, giving it a maximum range of 5,950nm (11,020km) with 300 passengers, and will be able to carry nearly five tonnes more payload than today’s 235-tonne aircraft.
Meanwhile, the new 240-tonne Airbus A330-200 will fly up to 270nm further, increasing its maximum range to 7,050nm (13,060km) with 246 passengers, and carry over 2.5 tonnes more payload than today’s 238-tonne A330-200.
According to Airbus, the two models will also offer increased fuel-efficiency thanks to aerodynamic refinements and engine enhancements which the manufacturer is developing for them. Entry into service of the 240-tonne A330-300 is aimed for mid-2015.
In practical terms, 240-tonne capability significantly extends the market coverage of the Airbus A330 family, according to the manufacturer.
For example, the newest A330-300 will now be able to connect new city pairs that include London-Tokyo; Frankfurt-Cape Town; Beijing-Melbourne; Beijing-San Francisco; Kuala Lumpur-Paris; and Los Angeles-Dublin.
Moreover, compared with the original 212-tonne A330-300 in 1992, the 240-tonne A330-300 will be able to fly 2,000nm (3,700km) further and cover 90 per cent of the market from Heathrow – up 51 per cent from the 39 per cent market coverage at the time of the A330-300’s original entyr into service.
Airbus claims the latest A330-300 aircraft will be able to fly similar ranges to the Boeing 777-200ER while burning over 15 per cent less fuel on a 1,800nm mission.
Furthermore, claims Airbus, the A330 will even become an extremely cost-effective alternative to the Boeing 787 on many routes, offering around 5 per cent lower direct operating costs per trip than the 787.
A key advantage of 240-tonne capability, according to Airbus, is that the increase in range allows the A330-300 to cover more of the routes which the longer-range A330-200 can now operate. This will give airlines the flexibility to use the A330-200 to open new routes and grow frequency whilst using the A330-300 to grow capacity at low cost, the manufacturer says.
The A330 family, which spans 250 to 300 seats and includes Freighter, VIP, and Military Transport/Tanker variants, has now attracted around 1,200 orders and some 900 aircraft are flying with more than 90 operators worldwide.
According to Airbus, the A330 family is achieving average dispatch reliability above 99 per cent.