The idea of wide-body aircraft had already made its way on the blueprints of the Airbus company as soon as the A300 secured its steps in the commercial aviation market. Although A320 came earlier than the A330 /340 due to changing dynamics of air travel in the late 80s. But, the A330 genuinely proved its worth as soon as it became part of many airline fleets. This variant of Airbus has served the aviation fraternity in all the domains of commercial, military, and business jet. Accounted as the third-largest delivered wide-body aircraft, the A330 is still serving in varying capacities. To date, Turkish Airlines holds the highest inventory of the Airbus A330.
Read more:- Airbus Commercial Aircraft Division
Introducing the Airbus A330
Airbus began development on the Airbus A330 in parallel with the A340 and almost launched both designs with their first orders in June 1987. The A330-300 made its maiden flight in November 1992 and formally entered into service with Air Inter in January 1994. The slightly shorter version of the A330-200 subsequently followed in 1998.
General Portfolio of Airbus A330
The older versions of the A330 are known as ‘CEO (current engine option). The present version is known as the neo (new engine option). Some of the interesting areas of its portfolio include its structure, engines, and flight control system. The older version of the A330 followed the same structure as the A340.
Interestingly, the A330ceo had the option of picking any of the three engines from General Electric, Rolls Royce, and Pratt and Whitney. The Rolls Royce Trent engine only powers the A330neo. Airbus had a very vision from the very beginning. Its fly-by-wire flight control system is a hallmark of aviation history. The legacy continued, and a similar flight control system was installed on the A330CEO.
Airbus A330 Seating Capacity
As mentioned earlier, the Airbus A330 was launched in two sized variants (A330-300 and A330-200). The latter one is the smaller version of the A330. The A330-300 has a range of 11,750 km with a seating capacity of 277 passengers. The shorter A330-200 can cover 13,450 km with 247 passengers on board.
The maximum number of passengers that the Airbus A330 can carry is 440. Both the Airbus A330-300 and Airbus A330-900 can carry up to 440 passengers, whereas the A330-200 and A330-800 can carry up to 406 passengers. However, the number of seats on aircraft will depend on the airline that uses the aircraft and the cabin class layout that they choose.
Deserving Title of a ‘WORK HORSE’
The A330 has been serving different countries in multi-role capacities. While it is extending its services in the commercial aviation sector, it has also played a key player in military aviation. Likewise, the aircraft is also being utilized as business jets. The serving numbers are very healthy. That is why it deserves the title of the ‘Workhorse.’
In order to cater for the different roles, the A330 has different variants.
The A330-300 is based on a stretched A300 fuselage but with new wings, stabilizers, and fly-by-wire systems. Cathay Pacific is the largest operator of A330-300. It is also known as the A330ceo. The A330-300 is highly viable for long-haul flights. It can accommodate between 250 and 290 passengers in a comfortable, quiet cabin with a typical three-class layout.
Airbus A330 Regional
In September 2013, Airbus announced a new version of the A330-300, named A330 Regional (Regional). Saudi Arabian Airlines became the launch customer for this new member of the versatile and successful A330 family. The variant has a capacity of 400 passengers. From the technical perspective, this variant has lesser thrust, reduced range, and mean take-off weight. However, it turned out to be a successful venture for Airbus.
Airbus A330 – 200
The A330-200 is the reduced version of the A330-300. Airbus launched the variant in 1998, yet it is still popular among the operators. It is shorter in length due to fewer fuselage frames. It can accommodate around 253 passengers with a similar three-class configuration. Korean Air was the first operator of the Airbus A330-200. As of now, China Eastern Airlines holds the highest inventory of the A330-200.
Airbus A330 – 200F
The A330-200F (F stands for Freighter) is the cargo derivative of the A330-200. A total of 38 A330-200F are operating around the globe.
Airbus A330 – 200P2F
The idea of converting a passenger aircraft into a freighter was coined in 2012. Airbus launched the A330P2F (Passenger to Freighter) conversion program in Singapore. Who knew that the idea would become the hour of need durIng COVID-19? Following the Flight tests, the first variant was delivered to EgyptAir Cargo on 3 August 2018.
Beluga XL (Xtra Large Cargo Freighter)
The Beluga XL (A330-743L) is an expanded derivation of the Airbus A330. It has 30% more space than its predecessor. It can now accommodate two A350 wings instead of one. Beluga has officially commenced operations between different Airbus factories in January 2020.
Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ-330)
The A330-200 converted as an ultra-long-range Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) is known as the A330-200 Prestige. It is primarily a corporate/business JET. It can accommodate around 50 passengers.
Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Transport and Tanker)
The A330 MRTT is a military version of the A330-200 family. The aircraft was designed by the Airbus Space and Defence Division, primarily for the ‘AERIAL REFUELLING’ operations. At present, air forces of Australia, France, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom have Airbus A330 MRTT in their respective fleets.
The Airbus A330 family is an all-rounder group of variants, extending their valuable services in various capacities. With the arrival of the A330neo, the legacy will continue for more times to come.