The passenger airliner market is lucrative business and typically involves two industry heavyweights - Boeing and Airbus. Airbus' first entry ever became their successful A300 line which eventually produced offshoots in the A320, A330, and A340 models. The A330 joined the Airbus stable during the 1990s as a wide-body, twin-engine passenger hauler/freight mover and was formally introduced on January 17th, 1994 with launch customer Air Inter. Since then, the model has seen orders reach over 1,350 aircraft with over 1,100 having been fulfilled to date (2015). Production has been ongoing since 1992 and now includes three major variants - the A330-200, the A330-200F ("Freight"), and the A330-300. The A330 follows the A320 and A340 by bringing along with it industry staples such as Fly-By-Wire (FBW) controlling and glass cockpits for the crew of two. First flight of an A330 was on November 2nd, 1992 and the product competes directly with the 767, 777, and 787 models offered by rival Boeing.
The A330-200 is offered in two primary seat configurations, a 2-class seating 293 and a 3-class seating 253. The A330-200F, a cargo hauler by design, features seating for just twelve as the rest of its internal space is reserved for freight. The A330-300 has a 2-class arrangement seating 335 and a 3-class arrangement seating 295. The A330-200 and A300-200F models share an overall length of 193 feet while the A330-300 is increased to 209 feet. All share the same 197.9 foot wingspan. The aircraft is offered with three possible engines - 2 x General Electric CF6-80E1 turbofans of 72,000lbf thrust, 2 x Pratt & Whitney PW4000 turbofans of 70,000lbf thrust, or 2 x Rolls-Royce Trent 700 turbofans of 71,000lbf thrust - to help broaden the product's market appeal. Performance numbers include a maximum speed of 915 kmh, a cruising speed of 870 kmh, a range out to 13,400 kilometers, and a service ceiling of 42,650 feet. The A330-200F-model sees range reduced to 6,000 kilometers while the A330-300 follows with a 11,300 kilometer overall range.
Airbus A330 series aircraft operators range from Argentina and Algeria to Ukraine and Yemen. Its largest supporter remains Air China with nearly fifty of the type making up its stock. The A330 line also makes up the A330 MRTT ("Multi-Role Tanker Transport"), a combination airframe used by several militaries for aerial refueling missions as well as general transport sorties. The A330 also served as the basis for the now-abandoned Airbus submission to the USAF's tanker program ("KC-X") - as the "KC-45" (detailed elsewhere on this site). The product was represented in the United States under a joint Northrop Grumman/EADS endeavor and was initially selected for adoption. The submission lost out to the Boeing KC-46 "Pegasus" (detailed elsewhere on this site) after a protested selection process.
The "oversized parts" handler, the A300-600St "Beluga" - will see its replacement formed from the existing A330 airframe.
As with any other passenger hauler, the A330 series has seen its share of accidents and fatalities. At least nineteen major events involving the line have been recorded with some 339 total lives lost.
The A330neo is in development to succeed the standard A330 product (and compete directly with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner line). This mark features solely Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines (2x), an increased wingspan, winglets for efficiency and other refinements. A first flight is expected to be undertaken in the middle of 2016 with formal model introduction to come during the latter half of 2017.
April 2017 - The A330neo is expected to see its first-flight sometime in 2018.
October 2017 - Airbus has announced higher MTOW values for its upcoming A330-800neo and A330-900neo passenger haulers.
August 2018 - Egypt has taken delivery of its first A330-200P2F freighter form.
September 2018 - Launch customer TAP Air Portugal is set to receive the first re-engined A330-900 following European certification.
September 2018 - The A330-900 has received European Aviation Safety Agency type certification. TAP Air Portugal remains the launch customer.
November 2018 - An A330-800 with new engines took to the air for the first time at Toulouse-Blagnac en route to certification scheduled for sometime in 2019.
April 2019 - Uganda Airlines has firmed its order for two A330-800 (A330neo) passenger jets.
September 2019 - Air carrier Vietnam Airlines has completed retirement of its A330 fleet.
November 2020 - Hi-Fly of Portugal is ending its operations involving the A380, focusing its efforts on the A330 series instead.
December 2020 - Spain will be converting ex-Iberia A330-200 passenger airliners to the MRTT aerial tanker role.
A330 - Base Model Designation.
A330-200 - Passenger model.
A330-200F - Freighter model.
A330-300 - Passenger model.
A330 MRTT - Combination military tanker / transport.
KC-45 - Proposed aerial tanker for USAF.
A330-200Lite - Proposed model abandoned due to lack of market interest.
A330-300HGW - Based on A330-300 with higher gross weight.
A330-500 - Proposed dimensionally smaller version of the A330-200 model; abandoned due to lack of customer interest.
A330neo - Improved A330 product line encompassing A300-800neo and A300-900neo.
A330-800neo - Fuselage length of A330-200 model with additional passenger seating; fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 turbofan engines of 72,000lb thrust; revised aerodynamics; increased mainplane span; winglets for fuel efficiency; service entry for 2018.
A330-900neo - Fuselage length of A330-300 with additional passenger seating; service entry before end of 2017.
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Aviation developments of similar form and function, or related to, the Airbus A330...
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