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Airbus’s A330neo type makes first flight, while Air Mauritius accepts its first A350XWB

3rd November 2017

By: Keith Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The first development aircraft in Europe-based major aerospace group Airbus’s new A330neo (new engine option) family made its maiden flight on October 19, from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, in France. The aircraft took off at 09:57 local time and landed at 14:10, having flown for four hours and 13 minutes.

The first flight of the A330neo “marks yet another milestone along the Airbus journey of continuous innovation”, affirmed Airbus COO and president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft Fabrice Brégier. “My congratulations and thanks go to all the teams who have contributed to make today’s flight happen, and to our customers for choosing this very efficient and capable aircraft to give them market advantage. We look forward to a successful flight test campaign and entry into service of the A330neo in 2018.”

The wide-body A330neo family will comprise two versions – the A330-800 and the longer A330-900 – and the flight test programme will involve three aircraft, two of which will be A330-900s. The first development aircraft, the MSN1795, is a -900. The flight test, development and certification campaign will involve 1 100 flying hours for the A330-900, with another 300 hours for the A330-800. Airbus is aiming for the certification of the A330-900 in both Europe and the US sometime in the middle of next year.

The A330neo is the new-generation version of the company’s well-established and highly successful A330 family. Both the A330-800 and the A330-900 are powered by new, improved economy Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 power plants, with new nacelles and engine pylons (made of titanium). The aircraft also has new wings (which have a span of 64 m, greater than those of previous A330 family aircraft, whose wing span was 60.3 m). The A330neo wings are also fitted with curved wingtips called ‘sharklets’ by Airbus – which are based on technology developed for the A350XWB family. The wings also benefit from aerodynamic improvements to their overall profiles.

The new airliners will also be fitted with ‘Airspace by Airbus’ cabins and each will be able to take up to ten more passengers than its conventional engine option counterpart, while increasing comfort. The A330-900 will thus be able to take a maximum of 287 passengers in a three-class cabin layout, while the equivalent figure for the A330-800 will be 257.

The launch customer for the A330-900 is TAP Air Portugal. To date, 212 A330neos have been ordered by 12 customers.

Separately, on October 20, Air Mauritius took delivery of its first A350XWB airliner– an A350-900. This aircraft is one of two that will be leased by the airline from AerCap. Air Mauritius is also buying another four A350-900s directly from Airbus to create a fleet of six. The airline is the first A350XWB operator in the Indian Ocean region. The Air Mauritius A350-900 is outfitted with a two- class cabin, comprising 28 business class and 298 economy class seats, for a total of 326. The airline will employ its A350-900s on routes to Africa, Asia and Europe.

All A350XWBs feature parts and systems manufactured in South Africa, namely fuselage components, satellite communications equipment and engine pylon parts, by Aerosud, Cobham South Africa and Denel. More than 70% of each A350XWB airframe is made of advanced materials, 54% being composites. This results in a lighter airframe (reducing fuel burn) and less maintenance. Each aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, described by Airbus as the world’s most-efficient large aero engine. The wing loading of the aircraft is continuously optimised during flight, decreasing drag and reducing fuel burn.

Airbus already has 858 firm orders for the A350XWB family from 45 customers. Air Mauritius already had a fleet of ten Airbus airliners, composed of eight wide-bodies – six A340-300s and two A330-200s – and two single-aisles (A319s).

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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