Airbus has started final assembly of its first A330neo, an A330-900, with the joining of the wings to the center fuselage at station 40 in its plant in Toulouse, France. Plans call for the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered -900 to gain certification in the fourth quarter of 2017, followed by approval for the A330-800 at the end of 2018.
“We have started with a very tight development schedule and are today right on time,” said Odile Jubécourt, Airbus head of the A330neo program. “I am happy to say we are in good shape to meet the high standards of maturity and reliability our customers expect from us and I want to thank the teams for this outstanding achievement.”
Apart from a switch from Trent 700 to Trent 7000 turbofans, the the 252-seat A330-800neo and the 310-seat A330-900neo feature a 3.7-meter wingspan extension to 64 meters, Sharklet wingtips styled after the wingtips on the A350 XWB and 95 percent spares commonality with the current A330. The manufacturer claims the updated A330neos will reduce fuel consumption by 14 percent per seat compared with current A330s.
The 68,000- to 72,000-pound-thrust Trent 7000 provides “significant” performance benefits compared with the Trent 700, improving specific fuel consumption by 10 percent, doubling the bypass ratio and reducing noise by half.
To meet A330neo requirements, Rolls-Royce has adapted the Trent 1000-TEN to incorporate a new electronic engine control unit, new gearbox, air-start capability, and related changes. Before beginning series production, the manufacturer plans to assemble four development examples of the engine, which also features a new nacelle and electronic bleed-air system that uses A350 technology.
Since launching the program at the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow, Airbus has collected orders for 186 A330neos. In April Garuda Indonesia confirmed a firm order for 14 A330-900s, replacing an existing contract for seven A330-300s. It expects first delivery in 2019.