Airbus A330neo launch customer TAP Air Portugal hopes to start operating the aircraft in December and anticipates flying three of them before the end of the year, though it hasn’t announced a delivery date for the first example.
“The first delivery of the A330neo will happen in the next weeks. Watch the space,” an Airbus spokesman told AIN, adding "it is our customers’ privilege to communicate on the delivery schedule of their aircraft.”
TAP remains cautious on the delivery date of its first A330neo and said that Airbus and it have set no date for the signing of the transfer of property. “We wish to fly the aircraft commercially in December,” a TAP executive told AIN. The airline, Airbus, and Rolls-Royce continue their work with the Portuguese authorities, EASA, and the U.S. FAA to obtain all needed certifications to fly the A330neo on transatlantic routes from its hub in Lisbon, the executive noted. The first route could connect Lisbon with São Paulo, but that will depend on ETOPS certification.
EASA granted the A330-900 a type certificate on September 26 and the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engine, the exclusive powerplant on the aircraft, won approval from the Cologne-based European aviation safety authority on July 20. Airbus told AIN on Friday that it expects FAA type certification and 180-minute ETOPS certification “by the end of 2018” and 330-minute ETOPS approval during the first half of next year, indicating the certification process of the first member of its re-engined A330 family is suffering another delay.
On September 26, after belatedly securing European certification, Airbus at the time said FAA certification “is expected to follow shortly.”
Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 program manager Chris Davie told AIN in July the UK engine manufacturer engine expected to complete Trent 7000 330-minute ETOPS testing by early August, complete the reporting process to EASA by the end of September and to obtain 330-minute certification in time for the engine’s entry into commercial service in October.
Airbus holds firm orders from 14 customers for 224 A330-900s, but none for its smaller variant, the A330-800. TAP expects to take 21 A330neos as part of an order for 71 Airbus aircraft, schedules for which call for deliveries to run through 2025.
The airline in June said it had topped up its 2015 order for 14 A330neo and 39 A320neo family aircraft with an order for 18 more, bringing its total commitment to 21 A330-900s and 50 A320neo family aircraft, including 14 A321LRs.
Airbus’s A330neo order overview shows that TAP placed a direct order with the OEM for 10 examples. The 24 A330neos ordered by Iran Air remain on Airbus’s order book.