In 1986, Airbus took a further leap with another new program, the A-330/340. This took shape as a single airplane that could accommodate either two or four engines. The A-330 was the twinjet version; it was larger than the A-300 and the Boeing 767. The A-340 was the four-engine version. Built for long range, it served transoceanic routes that covered world-spanning distances but attracted too few travelers.
The popular Airbus twin-engine long-range family has flown over eleven million operational hours and attracted over 70 customers and operators. Its global market endorsement is reflected in record sales. Since the original version of the A330-300 entered service in 1993, the principal attraction of the type has been its very low operating cost per seat. Thanks to the introduction of numerous product improvements, it remains the most cost-effective aircraft in its class.
The popularity of the A330 is due to its ability to match market range and efficiency requirements better than any other aircraft in service, by offering the cost benefits generated by high levels of technology in its structure, aerodynamics and systems. The wing is aerodynamically optimised to be fuel-efficient for medium to long-range routes. A member of the Airbus fly-by-wire Family, the A330 allows Cross Crew Qualification and Mixed Fleet Flying. The A330 Family also profits from improvements developed for the A340-500 and -600, including the introduction of lighter and stronger metal alloys and advanced composites to reduce airframe weight.
Thanks to the A330's true widebody fuselage, the cabin is optimised for both flexibility and comfort, enabling airlines to offer all passengers the highest levels of comfort of any aircraft in its class. The A330 main deck volume is echoed in the lower deck, which allows airlines to carry more revenue-generating cargo consolidated on pallets and containers loaded side-by-side, something which is not possible with existing competition in this category. This feature has, for example, enabled some operators to profitably fly regional overnight freight-only services with the A330 after a full day's passenger service.
The A330 cabin is designed for both flexibility and comfort. With generous, true widebody dimensions, the A330 is able to accommodate seat and class configurations to suit a wide spectrum of operators' requirements. The A330 cabin is quieter than other large twinjet aircraft. Overhead stowage is designed to match the most popular "roller-bag" sizes. The A330 can be equipped with the latest in-flight entertainment systems as well as the new generation of on-board communication features, allowing passengers and crew to be as well connected in the air as on the ground. The spaciousness of the A330 cabin is matched by the capacity of its underfloor cargo holds. These allow airlines to carry large amounts of revenue-generating cargo in both pallets and containers.
A330 passenger models may be powered by General Electric, Pratt and Whitney or Rolls-Royce engines, each optimised to minimise the environmental impact in terms of noise and emissions.
The A330-300 typically accommodates 295 Passengers in three classes. It has a range of up to 10,500km/5,650nm and has excellent operational flexibility from regional services, such as Hong Kong-Taipei to longer-range routes like Bombay to Sydney. The A330-300 is the world's lowest operating cost per seat aircraft in its segment, typically accommodating 335 passengers in two classes for regional operations or 295 travellers in three classes on long-haul routes of up to 10,500km/5,650nm. Today, the A330-300 is the reference for airlines serving intra-Asia routes.
Comfortably carrying 253 passengers in a typical three-class arrangement, the A330-200 entered into service in 1998. Developed from the larger A330-300, its range of up to 12,500km/6,750nm enables it to easily serve destinations like Tokyo from the US West Coast, or from Sao Paulo to London non-stop. The smaller capacity A330-200 has a range of 12,500km/6,750nm with 253 passengers in a comfort three-class seating arrangement. The A330-200 can easily serve non-stop destinations from Latin America to North America and Europe, from Asia to major US West Coast as well as operating economically on medium ranges.
The A330 Family continues to evolve. Its latest member, the new A330-200F is the only modern solution for the mid-size freighter market. It is projected to enter service at the end of 2009. The newest Airbus freighter will offer operators between 64 tonnes and 69 tonnes payload, representing 30 per cent more volume than any freighter in its class. Another benefit the A330-200F brings to operators is a new dual weight capability, enabling them to grow their business by opening up or extending the cargo routes they currently operate. Typical range with a 64 tonne payload is 7,400km/4,000nm. This new aircraft meets the current and future noise and emissions regulations and will be an ideal solution for operators looking to replace their older mid-sized freighters currently in-service and modernise their fleet.
The A330 reached the milestone of over 600 firm orders in November 2006. This showed a strong market endorsement of Airbus' environmentally friendly, long-range twin-engine in production aircraft which is leader in the medium to extended range category. The milestone was reached with the firm order, previously announced, for six A330-200s by TAM, Airbus' largest customer in Latin America.
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