Since the A330’s service entry, Airbus has committed to continuously improving the programme by spending approximately €150 million each year on incremental improvements and innovations in systems, technology and the cabin. From nose to tail, the A330 incorporates the best in Airbus technology and innovation – taking inspiration from the company’s latest products, such as the A350 XWB.
As a result, the A330’s operational characteristics have continuously improved – maturing this flexible and versatile aircraft to operate efficiently on all routes from short- to long-haul, from 30 minutes up to 15 hours.
This has been made possible by the regular introduction of airframe modifications, technological fertilization from other Airbus products developments, as well as the use of more recent methods and tools.
The A330 has state-of-the-art technology, thanks to continuous investment and development of the programme.
For the A330 Family, Airbus has improved flexibility and payload and range capability through different design weight aircraft variants:
- Maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) increase – provides more range at a given payload, and more payload at a given range
- MTOW reduction – optimised for high-traffic regional routes
- Maximum zero fuel weight (MZFW) increase - offers more maximum payload
- Maximum lift weight (MLW) - comes along with MZFW increase
Moreover, the A330 is manufactured using world-leading commercial production techniques, which include advanced composite materials and ultra-light alloys to reduce aircraft weight, ease maintenance and increase airframe lifetime. The A330’s optimised wing design ensures the best takeoff and landing performance in all conditions, as well as high-efficiency flight at cruise.
21st-century passenger experience
The A330 benefits from continuous improvements that bring the latest technology aboard, making it a highly attractive aircraft for airlines to deliver a 21st century passenger experience for their passengers.
Improvements in interior illumination – including the option for full-LED mood lighting – provide the right ambience on even the longest flights. Overhead stowage bins create additional room for carry-on luggage, which helps facilitate passenger boarding and easier in-flight access to bags. Even the area below the main cabin has been the focus of Airbus innovation: the company is a pioneer in utilising lower deck space for options such as crew rest areas and lavatories.
Airbus operators are able to offer worldwide broadband connectivity services via the Internet and with mobile telephones via the first line-fit connectivity solution from any aircraft manufacturer: Airbus’ ALNA V2 (AirLine Network Architecture). With this platform, passengers can use the devices they bring onboard, such as tablets, smart phones and laptops in flight.
Additionally, like all members of Airbus’ modern market-leading product line, the A330 is a modern aircraft that offers superior comfort in all classes of service, including 18-inch wide seats for long-haul economy travel.
Powering the future
The manufacturers of all three jet engines offered on the A330 have introduced enhancements that lower the amount of fuel burned and reduce maintenance costs. Such improvements are offered by Pratt & Whitney on the “Advantage70” version of its PW4000 engine, by General Electric with the “Tech CF6” updates to its CF6 powerplant, and on Rolls-Royce’s “Trent700 EP” version of the Trent 700.
Airbus will also be offering engine further performance improvements with the A330neo (new engine option) programme. Launched in 2014, the A330neo will incorporate latest-generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines with a larger 112-inch diameter fan for a 10:1 bypass ratio – helping contribute to the NEO’s 14 per cent reduction in fuel consumption per seat.
FLYING FARTHER & SAFER
The A330 is the first aircraft to be certificated to fly long-distance routes that previously were not authorised for twin-engine airliners. Its approval for flights with ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) of up to 240 minutes allows for improved routings that shorten flight time, reduce fuel burned, lower emissions, as well as enhance schedule reliability.
Additionally, the A330 includes navigational upgrades such as Airborne Traffic Situation Awareness (ATSAW), which leads to shorter routings, optimised flight levels and more precise approaches. The A330 was also the first widebody aircraft qualified for Required Navigation Performance – Authorisation Required (RNP-AR), which enables it to access airfields located in challenging terrain and with limited navigational infrastructure. This also allows operation with reduced weather minima and contributes to schedule reliability and positions the A330 for the next generation of Air Traffic Control.
Other major navigation and flight management systems have been and will be implemented to assist pilots such as heads-up displays and the runway overrun prevention system.
SHARKLETS FOR THE NEO
Among the aerodynamic improvements Airbus is incorporating for A330neo (new engine option) jetliners are Sharklets wingtip devices, which include a wingspan extension. Inspired by the curved wingtips on the A350 XWB, the NEO’s Sharklets lengthen its wingspan to 64 m – a 3.7m increase from current engine option jetliners – while also providing improved lift and reduced drag.
The A330neo jetliners’ Sharklets will be supplied by Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD), the aerospace manufacturing division of the Korean Air Group, which also manufactures Sharklets for the single-aisle A320 Family, as well as providing parts for other Airbus programmes.
Thanks to its robustness and its proven reliability, maintenance programme intervals have been continuously escalated, based on experience since the A330’s service entry.
The latest changes bring the aircraft’s “A Check” at 800 flight hours and the structural check to 12 years, leading to a total maintenance cost reduction more than 20 per cent since the launch of the A330 program.
Orders & deliveries
Did you know?
- With more than 1,600 total bookings since its launch by Airbus, the A330 is a global success
- The A330’s top 10 customers have ordered this highly-reliable jetliner an average of 8.5 times
- An A330 aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in the world every 20 seconds
- Over 1.8 billion passengers have flown on an A330, representing a daily average of 500,000-plus people
- The global A330 fleet has accumulated over 38 million flight hours on more than 8.5 million flights