First Flight of Airbus A330neo Expected By End of Summer

 - June 9, 2017, 3:40 PM
The first A330neo rolls out of its paint shop - sans engines - last December. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus has now scheduled the delayed first flight of the A330-900neo for the end of the summer as the company awaits delivery of the first example’s Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines. Speaking during the company's June 9 media day in Toulouse, Airbus Commercial Aircraft head of programs Didier Evrard noted the company has fully assembled two prototypes, engines for one of which Airbus expects to arrive during the third week of June.  

“Rolls Royce is a bit late, but their bench test results are good,” added Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Bregier. Earlier this week, Evrard told Bloomberg that the problem with the Trent 7000 involved its bleed air system for wing de-icing, and that the British engine-maker had suffered from a lack of testing capacity. Airbus now plans to make the first A330neo delivery from Toulouse in mid-2018. The company expects first delivery of a current generation A330 from its new Completion and Delivery Center in Tianjin, China, this September.

Airbus delivered 66 A330s last year and maintains a rate of about six per month.

Although Airbus claims a marked improvement in aerodynamic efficiency with a 3.7-meter wingspan addition resulting from incorporation of sharklets, most of the airplane's advertized fuel burn reduction comes from the Trent 7000s. Rolls-Royce cites “significant” performance benefits in the 68,000- to 72,000-pound-thrust Trent 7000 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 1000-10 to incorporate a new electronic engine control unit, new gearbox, air-start capability, and related changes. Before beginning series production, the manufacturer planed to assemble four development examples of the engine, which also features a new nacelle and electronic bleed-air system that uses A350 technology.