Final assembly of Airbus’ first A330 with the new 242 tonne maximum take-off-weight (MTOW) capability is underway at the A330 Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France. The aircraft is currently completing its structural assembly before the cabin integration phase and will be used for certification flight trials. A second aircraft is being assembled in parallel which is destined for entry in service in Q2 2015 with Delta Airlines, the launch customer for the new weight variant.
Patrick Piedrafita, Airbus’ head of the A330 program said: “I am very proud to see the first 242 tonne A330 at the final assembly stage only two years after launch. This variant is the basis for the future A330neo.” He added: “Airlines operating the new 242 tonne A330 will be able to carry additional payload on longer routes, while at the same time enjoying a very high operational reliability of 99.4 percent.”
Thanks to an aerodynamic package reducing aircraft drag and the latest engine improvements, the 242 tonne MTOW offers an extended range of up to 500 nautical miles and up to two percent reduced fuel consumption. The 242 tonne A330-300 is capable of flying for up to 13 hours and 15 hours for the 242 tonne A330-200. So far, nine customers worldwide have already selected this option since the launch in November 2012.
Early version of the A330 had a MTWO of 230 tonnes. Improvements led to a 235 tonnes MTOW over the years, with 242 tonnes now the maximum. Over 1,100 A330s in a number of variants currently fly with more than 100 operators worldwide.