Airbus’ re-engined A330-900 widebody has received its type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), paving the way for first delivery to launch customer TAP Air Portugal.
The certification of the A330-900, part of the A330neo family of aircraft, comes after a flight test program that kicked off on October 17 2017 involving three aircraft that racked up a total of 1,400 flight test hours.
Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Guillaume Faury said TAP Air Portugal would receive the first A330-900 “in the coming weeks”.
“The A330neo embodies Airbus’ spirit of innovation. This new generation aircraft with unparalleled efficiency and flexibility from short to long haul routes has tremendous market potential,” Faury said in a statement on Wednesday (European time).
Airbus said certification from the United States Federal aviation Administration (FAA) was expected to follow shortly.
Launched at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014, the A330neo features new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and a larger wing with “Sharklet” wingtips to reduce fuel consumption.
The type 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 7,500nm 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 6,550nm for the A330-900 configured with 287 seats in three classes.
Launch customer TAP Air Portugal has 14 A330-900s on order.
The airline’s first built aircraft, MSN1819, was used for route proving tests that included travelling to 15 cities across five continents while accumulating 150 flight test hours and undertaking function and reliability tests such as ETOPS missions, landing at diversion airports and testing airport handling services.
Certified ✔️! The #A330-900 has been granted certification by @EASA. This amazing aircraft is now ready to deliver unparalleled levels of efficiency to airlines and outstanding comfort to passengers. Discover what it takes to test a true new generation aircraft… ✈️ #A330neo pic.twitter.com/AGRoqSqJu0
— Airbus (@Airbus) September 26, 2018
Aircalin the only A330neo customer in Oceania
Airbus has received 210 A330neo orders from 12 customers, as well as 14 orders from unidentified customers, as of August 31 2018, according to its website.
All orders are for the larger A330-900. Hawaiian Airlines had been the only customer for the A330-800 before it dropped plans to operate the type in March 2018 and instead went for the Boeing 787-9.
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.
Meanwhile, Aircalin and Virgin Australia have just the smaller A330-200.