The newest member of the Airbus A330neo family has received joint US and European type certification after a 370-hour flight test program.
The A330-800 got the green light from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency after test aircraft MSN1888 completed 132 flights since first taking to the air in November 2018.
The A330-800 incorporates new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, a new 3D-optimised wing and new Sharklets using lighter composite materials to achieve a 25 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared with older generation competitor aircraft of similar size.
It is the smaller sibling of the A330-900, which entered service with TAP Portugal in late 2018.
The new variant is certified for a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 242 tonnes for a range capability of up to 7,500 nautical miles (13,890km) with a typical seat configuration of 220 to 260 passengers in three classes.
Alternatively, it can accommodate 406 passengers in a single-class high-density configuration.
Despite initial skepticism about the Airbus decision to revamp its successful A330 family, the neos have won 337 firm orders from 22 operators.
However, the response to the -800 has so far been muted with eight orders from Kuwait Airways, two from Uganda Airlines and four from an undisclosed customer.
Garuda Indonesia and Air Greenland have indicated they plan to acquire another five planes.
The European manufacturer initially looked at a revamped A330 as a response to Boeing’s 787 but decided to develop the A350XWB after a poor response from airlines.
The decision was revisited after the commercial success of the A320neo and in response to calls from existing A330 operators such as AirAsia.
The program was launched at the 2014 Farnborough Airshow.
An advantage of the A330neos is the operational commonality they share with the A350XWB.
This boosts pilot productivity and minimizes training between the two aircraft types, allowing airlines to effectively operate them as a single fleet.
From a passenger perspective, the neos feature the award-winning Airspace cabin with larger overhead storage, advanced cabin mood lighting and the latest in-flight entertainment and connectivity.
Airbus says maintenance on the 330-800 will also benefit from the aircraft’s new Skywise data connectivity, which allows engineers to predict potential issues before they arise.
It estimates the overall A330 family operates more than a million flights annually and has garnered over 1800 orders from 120 customers. About 1400 are currently flying.