The A330-300 Enhanced was introduced by Airbus this year to address some of the shortcomings in payload and range. What is the major difference of this variant to the first version and what is its future for the aircraft manufacturer?
The Airbus A330-300 was designed based on a stretched version of the company’s A300 fuselage with new wings, stabilizers and fly-by-wire systems. At introduction into commercial operation back in January 1994, the aircraft had a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 233 tonnes and a range of approximately 10,500 kilometers / 5,700 nautical miles / 6,560 miles.
In 2010, Airbus offered its customers with an update that will increase the MTOW and range by 0.85% and 2.11%. In November 2012, an additional increase of 2.98% and 4.81% brings MTOW up to 242 tonnes while range go up to 6,100 nautical miles / 10,720 kilometers. Both metrics enable airlines using this variant to fly longer distances to operate more reliably. Additionally, the new variant will gain a two percent fuel consumption reduction which will bring operational costs down.
There are nine airlines who ordered this variant with delivery from 2015 to beyond 2018. The first A330-300 Enhanced was delivered to Delta Air Lines (DL) in May 2015 (source). The airline configured the variant with 34 Delta One®, 40 Comfort Plus™ and 219 Main Cabin seats.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines is the second airline (first based in Europe) to receive this new variant in September 2015 (source). It is using this variant for its long haul network going to US west coast and Asia (News – August 19, 2015). On delivery, the four A330-300 Enhanced aircrafts ordered will be configured with the new generation seats SAS introduced in February 2015 (News – February 17, 2015).
The new A330-300 Enhanced will enable the Nordic airline to operate to farther locations like Stockholm (ARN) to Los Angeles (LAX) or Copenhagen (CPH) to Tokyo Narita (NRT) more reliably.
With more range available, SAS could also consider commercial operations from CPH to destinations like Mexico City (MEX), Singapore (SIN), Bangkok (BKK), Cape Town (CPT) and Johannesburg (JNB). These airports may not have been as reliably serviced with the classic variant.
Future is bright for the A330 Family.
- Airbus will have the same 242 tonnes certification on the shorter A330-200 by 2016
- A modified version called A330 Regional was introduced in September 2013. It has a range of around 3,000 nm (5,600 km), 200 tonnes MTOW and a configuration for 400 passengers ready by 2018. This will be used by low cost airlines like Air Asia looking for higher capacity for lower distance operations (where the A320 / A350 / A380 Family may not be best choice).
- Airbus also introduced new more fuel efficient variant called A330-800neo (6 ordered) and A330-900neo (110 ordered) in 2014. This new variant will be operated by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines which are capable of achieving a significant fuel burn savings of 14% on a 4,000nm flight with around 310 passengers in a two class configuration (up 10 on average). Hawaiian Airlines is the launch customer for the -800neo with delivery date in late 2017/early 2018. Delta Air Lines is the launch customer for the -900neo with delivery date also stated for late 2017.