Today’s milestone handover of Airbus’ 1,000th A330 Family aircraft underscores the continuing popularity and success of this widebody jetliner based on its demonstrated reliability, efficiency, and versatility, as well as continuous improvements to the product line.
Cathay Pacific Airways accepted the landmark aircraft – with a special “We are flying the 1,000th A330” message on its fuselage – which joins the Hong Kong-based carrier’s already substantial fleet of A330 jetliners.
The A330 Family – the most cost-efficient twin-engine widebody aircraft in operation today – has compiled more than 25 million flight hours on 5.5 million flights with carriers worldwide, demonstrating an operational reliability of over 99 per cent while covering diverse routes ranging from 30 minutes to 14 hours.
Since the A330’s service entry, Airbus has continued to upgrade the aircraft, investing one euro over the last 10 years in improvements for every euro originally spent developing the jetliner. This modern product line now encompasses five members: A330-200 and A330-300 passenger versions; A330-200F mid-sized freighter; A330 MRTT multi-role military tanker transport; and ACJ330 VIP jetliner.
Enhancements introduced on the A330 over the years are many, from cabin upgrades using full LED lighting and fourth-generation inflight entertainment to improved operating efficiency with reduced fuel consumption.
One of Airbus’ latest major improvements is to be ready in 2015, increasing the aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) to 242 tonnes. This will extend the A330-300’s range to 6,100 nautical miles, while increasing the range of the A330-200 to 7,250 nautical miles. With these upgrades, Airbus will have added about 50 per cent more range since its service entry, while reducing maintenance costs by 20 per cent.
The A330’s continued high popularity is reflected in its production cadence: annual rate rises of 10 per cent have brought the output to a record 10 aircraft per month.