Airbus has begun flight tests of the second member of the A330neo family, with the A330-800 completing its maiden flight in Toulouse on Tuesday.
The aircraft, MSN1888, took off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport at 1031 local time with experimental test pilots Malcolm Ridley and François Barre, test-flight engineer Ludovic Girard and flight-test-engineers Catherine Schneider and Jose Corugedo Bermejo on board.
The flight lasted four hours and four minutes, with MSN1888 returning to Toulouse-Blagnac at about 1435.
Airbus said on Tuesday the A330-800 flight test campaign is expected to involve 300 flight hours, with certification expected in 2019.
“Today’s first flight of the A330-800 is the latest addition to our efficient Widebody family,” Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Guillaume Faury said in a statement.
“The A330-800 is an exceptionally versatile ‘route-opener’, offering unbeatable economics for airlines – encompassing everything from short to very-long haul widebody missions.”
VIDEO: A look at the first flight of the A330-800 from the Airbus YouTube channel.
Launched at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014, the A330neo comprises two variants – the A330-800 is the replacement for the A330-200, while the A330-900 is the replacement for the larger A330-300.
Thy are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and feature new winglets similar to those on the A350XWB.
The interior has also been improved by the Airspace by Airbus cabin concept.
There is 95 per cent commonality between the A330neo and current A330 variants. They type 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 Airbus, 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.
Aircalin is the only Airbus A330neo customer in Oceania
Airbus has received 224 A330neo orders from 12 customers, as well as 14 orders from unidentified customers, as of September 30 2018, according to its website. All orders are for the larger A330-900.
However, Kuwait Airways signed a purchase agreement for eight A330-800s in October.
The airline is the only A330-800 customer, after Hawaiian Airlines cancelled its order for six A330-800s in March in favour of operating the Boeing 787-9.
Aircalin became the first (and so far 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.
In September, the A330-900 received its type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), paving the way for first delivery to launch customer TAP Air Portugal.