Airbus has moved to improve the A330-300 and A330-200 by offering a 242-metric-tonne maximum take-off weight (MTOW) capability for both models and, for the larger A330-300, an increased fuel-capacity option.
These enhancements build on the capability announced earlier this year for an increased 240-tonne MTOW, and will be available for operators in 2015.
The new take-off weight capability combined with the fuel-capacity increase will enable operators who acquire the latest Airbus A330-300 variant to carry additional payload on longer sectors.
Overall, the A330-300’s full-payload range will increase by around 500 nautical miles (926 kilometers) over today’s 235-tonne A330-300, and the new Airbus A330-200 model’s full-payload range will increase by around 350nm (648km) over today’s 238-tonne A330-200.
The A330-300’s optional fuel-capacity increase will be achieved by activating the center wing tank for the first time on this model. The center tank and its associated systems have always been present as standard on its longer-range sibling, the A330-200.
According to Airbus, the additional fuel capacity for the A330-300 allows operators to fly new longer-distance routes, such as direct flights between Southeast Asia and Europe. For example, it will permit westbound direct flights such as Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt or Paris, with the ability to carry additional cargo on the eastbound return flight.
“The A330 is already a highly efficient and reliable airliner and we have taken it as our duty to maximize this even further, along with range and payload increases,” says Patrick Piedrafita, head of the A330 program.
Adds Piedrafita: “We are currently delivering more A330s per month than ever before and this is set to continue, especially given the ongoing improvements we are introducing to the airframe, cabin interior, and engines.”
Given that Airbus generally sells new A330-200s and A330-300s at considerably lower prices than the Boeing 787-8 and the 787-9 with which they respectively compete, the manufacturer’s move to offer higher gross-weight versions appears designed to ensure the A330 family remains competitive against the newer-technology 787.
Airbus’ own new-generation twin-engine widebody family, the Airbus A350 XWB (to be available in three major models), will compete primarily against the Boeing 777-200ER, 777-200LR and the 777-300ER, which currently have a stranglehold on the market sectors they occupy.
The Airbus A330 family, which spans 250 to 300 seats, and includes Freighter, VIP, and military Multi-Role Transport/Tanker variants, has attracted orders for more than 1,200 aircraft and around 900 aircraft are flying worldwide. The A330-330 recently overtook the A330-200 as the highest-selling version of the A330, mainly as a result of the additional range capability which Airbus has been offering as it has continued to develop the model.
One of the A330 family’s strong selling points is that it is one of the few widebody families available with a choice of three different engine types.
These are the General Electric CF6-80E1, in the A2, A3 and A4 versions; the Pratt & Whitney PW4000, in the PW4164, PW4168, PW4168A and PW4170 versions; and – with the leading market share on the A330 family – the Rolls-Royce Trent 700, in the Trent 772B-60 and the Trent 772C-60 versions.