Airbus has flown its new A330neo to Kuala Lumpur for the first time, as part of the final phase of test flights leading to the certification of its latest mid- size wide body airliner. The aircraft, an A330-900 painted in the livery of launch operator TAP Air Portugal, arrived at KLIA after a 12-hour non-stop flight from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France.
The A330neo (also called the A330-900) was flown non-stop in the ASEAN region for introduction to media and prospective clients. Top Airbus executives were also on board to provide first hand technical information to the hungry aviation media.
During the global route proving exercise, the A330neo will operate three multi-sector trips from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, covering 15 major airports worldwide. In total, the aircraft will complete 150 flight test hours during the trials, including 55 hours in Asia.
Kuala Lumpur was selected as the base for the aircraft during the Asian segment of the trials as it is home to the world’s largest A330neo customer - AirAsia X
Kuala Lumpur was selected as the base for the aircraft during the Asian segment of the trials as it is home to the world’s largest A330neo customer - AirAsia X. Altogether, the airline has ordered 100 units of the A330-900s, for delivery from 2020; making it the largest single customer for these new planes.
While based at KLIA the A330neo will undertake regional rotations to Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok and Hong Kong, before heading onwards to Mauritius and back to Toulouse. At Kuala Lumpur, the aircraft will be checked for compatibility at both KLIA 1 and KLIA 2.
The A330neo is the latest version of the best-selling twin aisle A330 family and is available in two versions, with the A330-800 seating around 250 passengers in three classes and up to 400 in an all Economy layout, and the larger A330-900 offering accommodation for around 300 in three classes or up to 440 in a high density single class configuration.
The A330neo incorporates new generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, a new optimised wing and increased use of lighter composite materials. Together, these advances bring a significant reduction in fuel consumption of 25 per cent compared with older generation aircraft of similar size.
The A330neo has been designed to operate efficiently both on regional and long haul flights, with an extended range capability of 7,250 nautical miles for the A330-900 and over 8,000 nautical miles for the A330-800. This enables both versions to operate direct services with full payload from South East Asia to Europe, including from Kuala Lumpur to London non- stop.
Passengers can expect the highest levels of comfort when flying on the A330neo, with the aircraft featuring the award-winning Airbus Airspace cabin.
Passengers can expect the high levels of comfort when flying on the A330neo, with the aircraft featuring the award-winning Airbus Airspace cabin. Initially developed for the larger all-new A350 XWB, the Airspace cabin has newly designed sidewalls and fixtures, larger overhead storage, advanced cabin mood lighting and the latest in-flight entertainment and connectivity. The aircraft’s fuselage width makes it equally suitable for full service operations or long haul low cost configurations, with a maximum of nine seats abreast in a 3 x 3 x 3 layout.
As with all Airbus aircraft, the A330neo shares a high level of commonality with the other models in the manufacturer’s product line, with similar flight deck, operating and maintenance procedures and common type ratings for pilots. In the widebody segment, the A330neo can be added seamlessly to the fleets of airlines operating the existing A330 Family, as well to fleets that include the larger A350 XWB and double deck A380.
The A330neo is predicted to see strong demand from airlines in the Asia-Pacific, where the existing A330 Family has been especially popular. Altogether there are over 600 A330s currently flying with 37 airlines in the region, including AirAsia X and Malaysia Airlines. The A330 is the most popular widebody aircraft ever, having won over 1,700 orders from 119 customers worldwide.
Today, over 1,370 A330s are in service with 125 airlines, flying on everything from high-density domestic and regional operations to long-range intercontinental routes. Type Certification for the A330neo is scheduled for Q3 2018, followed by entry-into-commercial service with TAP Air Portugal.