Airbus has started final assembly of the newest member of the A330neo family, the A330-800, in time for planned first flight in mid-2018, the manufacturer announced Wednesday.
The milestone comes less than two months after first flight of the bigger of the two A330neos, the A330-900, took place at the Airbus Flight and Integration Test Center in Toulouse, France. Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 turbofans and carrying a 242-metric-ton maximum takeoff weight, the A330-800 can fly segments of up to 7,500 nautical miles, while the recently launched 251-metric-ton variant can reach as far as 8,150 nautical miles.
Under what it terms a “fast-paced development program from launch to first delivery,” Airbus has embarked on a 1,100-flight-hour test campaign aimed at achieving EASA and FAA type certification for the A330-900 around mid-2018. The company plans to invest another 300 flight-test hours in the smaller A330-800 variant. The European manufacturer said it would perform flight testing in an airline-like operating environment intended to ensure “maximum aircraft maturity and reliability at entry into service.”
Although, together, the two A330neo variants have drawn firm orders for 212 airplanes, the A330-800 has collected only a single order for six from Hawaiian Airlines.