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06 April 2009
06. April 2009 Commercial Aircraft

The A330 is "15 years young"


The A330 is "15 years young"

Airbus today marked the 15th anniversary of its first A330 delivery, which opened a highly successful career for the twin-engine family of medium/long-range widebody jetliners that will continue to serve operators for years to come.

The no. 1 aircraft - an A330-300 version - was provided on 30 December 1993 to Air Inter, which operated it on the airline's high-capacity domestic route network within France. This aircraft subsequently joined the fleet of Brussels Airlines - which continues to use the milestone jetliner on regular service to numerous African destinations, accumulating a total of more than 50,000 flight hours.

There are some 250 A330-300s in service today, with more than 130 firmly-ordered aircraft still to be delivered.

From its original Air Inter routes with an average sector length of no more than 400 nautical miles, the A330-300 has spread its wings around the world, and now serves such long-haul routes as Frankfurt, Germany to Seattle, Washington on the U.S. West Coast - a still-air distance of over 4,400 nautical miles.

A growing proportion of the A330-300 fleet is now employed on extended-distance regional routes, such as those linking Middle East destinations with European capital cities. Similar flight lengths characterise the segments flown between Australia and Asia or from Europe to North America.

A330-300s convey large numbers of leisure travellers to the winter snow and summer sun every year. With the start of deliveries to Air Asia X in October 2008, the A330-300 is now providing low-cost services from Malaysia to China, Australia and other Asian destinations.

The A330-300 also is firmly established as the 300-seat aircraft of choice for operators in China (including Hong Kong), with almost 80 aircraft in service or on order.

Operators who will receive their first A330-300s beginning in 2009 are Etihad, Gulf Air, Oman Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines - as well as Aeroflot, Finnair and Swiss. The first of the new operators will be Singapore Airlines, with deliveries commencing in January.

Overall, more than 1,000 A330s have been ordered in the aircraft's various versions, including the new A330-200F freighter, which was launched by Airbus in January 2007. The A330's versatility also is demonstrated by its evolution as an aerial tanker for the in-flight refuelling of military aircraft and the airlift of troops and cargo.

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