A milestone first flight: The A330-200F confirms it is "the right aircraft, right now"
The A330-200F's first flight today brings this new Airbus aircraft one step closer to its 2010 revenue service introduction for a global air cargo market that is heading for a rebound, and which requires an efficient, capable new-generation mid-size freighter.
Taking off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport's Runway 32 at just after 10:00 a.m. local time, the A330-200F performed a 4-hour maiden airborne evaluation that was completed with its return to the southwestern France facility for a flyby, followed by a touch-and-go maneuver and the final landing.
This first flight occurred ahead of schedule for a jetliner that is expected to carry a greater payload than initially anticipated - confirming the A330-200F's tagline: "The right aircraft, right now."
A 180-hour flight test and certification campaign is planned for the A320-200F, leading to the freighter's initial delivery in the summer of 2010 for launch operator Etihad Crystal Cargo.
The A330-200F is based on Airbus' popular A330-200 passenger jetliner, and is produced on the same Toulouse final assembly line as the A330/A340 aircraft. It offers better payload, range and economics than previous-generation freighters, and provides the full benefits of operational commonality inherent in the fly-by-wire family of Airbus single-aisle and widebody jetliners.
In addition to being a highly capable replacement for ageing mid-size long-haul freighters in service worldwide, the A330-200F also offers opportunities to grow cargo flight frequencies in underserved markets.
With a total of 67 firm orders already booked by nine customers prior to today's first flight, the A330-200F has demonstrated its attractiveness as an efficient, reliable and profitable freighter for cargo operators and aircraft leasing companies around the globe.