Airbus says its A330-900 widebody has received regulatory approval to operate up to 285 minutes from a suitable landing field.
The extended twin engine aircraft operations (ETOPS) certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) means the A330-900 can be flown on a route that keeps it within four hours and 45 minutes flying time on a single engine from an alternate airport in the event of an engine failure.
Airbus said the extension of ETOPS approvals to 285 minutes, from 180 minutes previously, represented a potential air diversion distance of about 2,000nm. The airframer said a similar approval from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was expected soon.
The 285-minute ETOPS would be available as an option for A330-900 operators.
“A330neo operators which choose the ETOPS 285 min. option will be able to serve new direct ‘non-limiting’ routings,” Airbus said in a statement in late January.
“Meanwhile, operators flying on existing routes (currently flown with up to 180-minute diversion time) will be able to traverse a straighter, quicker and more fuel efficient path, and also have access to more – and possibly better equipped – en-route diversion airports if needed.”
TAP Portugal became the first airline to take delivery of the A330neo family of aircraft after accepting A330-900 CS-TUB at Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse in late November.
The airline has 21 A330-900s on order. It has configured the aircraft with 34 business class seats, 96 economy plus seats and 168 economy class seats for a total of 298.
Launched at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014, the A330neo is powered by new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and has a larger wing with “Sharklet” wingtips to reduce fuel consumption.
The type also features new composite nacelles, a fully faired titanium pylon and zero-splice air inlet technology.
The A330neo is also the launch aircraft for Airbus’s “AirSpace by Airbus” cabin concept which features larger overhead compartments, wider seats and aisles and new lighting, a “welcome area” and removal of the inflight entertainment box taking up legroom under the seat in front.
There are two A330neo variants – the A330-800 is the replacement for the A330-200, while the A330-900 is the replacement for the larger A330-300.
There is 95 per cent commonality between the A330neo and current A330 variants. It also shares a common pilot type rating with the Airbus A350 family.
The A330-200 has a typical range of 7,250nm when seating 247 passengers, according to the Airbus website, while the A330-800 will have a range of 8,150nm with 257 passengers in a three-class layout.
Meanwhile, the A330-300’s typical range is 6,350nm with a 277-passenger configuration, compared with 7,200nm for the A330-900 configured with 287 seats in three classes.
Airbus began flight tests of the A330-800 in early November 2018.
The A330-800 flight test campaign was expected to involve 300 flight hours, with certification expected in 2019, Airbus has said previously.
Aircalin the only A330neo customer in Oceania
Aircalin became the first (and still only) A330neo customer in Oceania in November 2016 when the New Caledonia-based airline put pen to paper for two A330-900s to replace its existing A330-200s.
In this part of the world, Fiji Airways and Qantas both operate the A330-200 and A330-300, while Aircalin and Virgin Australia have just the smaller A330-200.
At December 31 2018, Airbus had received 238 A330neo orders, according to its website.
Of those, 230 are for the larger A330-900, with Kuwait Airways the only airline that has opted for the A330-800 after it signed a purchase agreement for eight of the type in October.
Hawaiian Airlines was previously an A330-800 customer. However it cancelled an order for six A330-800s in March 2018 in favour of operating the Boeing 787-9.
VIDEO: A look at the making of TAP Portugal’s first A330-900 from the Airbus YouTube channel.