Airbus Increases A330 Payload and Range
Increased range and payload for the Airbus A330 twin-aisle twinjet, announced by the European manufacturer here at the Farnborough International airshow yesterday, will be welcomed by Malaysia Airlines (MAS), whose brand-new A380 very large airliner also opened the week’s flying-displays. After requests from owners and operators, Airbus is offering the enhanced performance, which will permit A330s to fly between Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and Paris among other potential new city-pair services cited by Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy.
The new variant will be available at a maximum takeoff weight (mtow) of about 529,200 pounds, up from earlier increased mtow of 518,175 pounds chosen by six airlines, including three in Asia, and about 524,790 pounds selected by at least six Asia Pacific operators.
MAS said recently it is awaiting details of Airbus A330 product-development plans before deciding on a widebody-fleet rationalization. The Asian carrier operates more than 20 A330-200s and -300s, previously ordered another 15 A330s and has been considering whether to add more if the European manufacturer could find some additional range. Group chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya has said that, in such a case, MAS might elect to adopt an all-Airbus widebody fleet by relinquishing its 17 ageing Boeing 777-200ERs.
For its part, Airbus sees the enhanced A330 as a lower-cost, more-efficient alternative to the U.S. design. The European manufacturer says the new A330-300 model would cover “94 percent of the 777-200ER network.”
The increased weight will be introduced on the A330-300 model, which would “benefit from up to 400 nm extra range, to 5,950 nm with 300 passengers, and carry nearly 5,000 kg [about 11,000 pounds] more payload than today’s 235,000-kg [aircraft],” with entry into service around the middle of 2015.
Subsequently, the A330-200 and A330-200F mtows would be similarly raised: “The new [529,000 pounds] A330-200 will fly up to 270 nm further–to 7,050 nm–with 246 passengers, and carry over [5,510 pounds)] more payload than today’s [524,691 pounds] A330-200.”
In range terms, Airbus said the new A330-300 would also be able to connect, say, London to Tokyo; Frankfurt to Cape Town; Beijing to Melbourne or San Francisco; or Los Angeles to Dublin. “Moreover, compared with the  original 212,000-kg [about 467,500 pounds] A330-300, [it] can fly 2,000 nm further [including to] 90 percent of the [London Heathrow] market, [compared with] 39 percent [originally].”
Airbus has delivered 887 A330s and holds orders for a further 306, Leahy claiming that 750 have been sold since Boeing launched the rival Model 787. Some 115 are said to have been ordered since the beginning of last year.
Compared with the 518,000-pound A330, a new aerodynamic package drawing on technology used on the upcoming A350 is said to reduce fuel consumption by one percent, while engines offer a further one-percent improvement. Also, a “load-alleviation function” modifies the span-wise load distribution to move loading inboard in gusts or continuous turbulence–so-called “de-stressing” of the wing that permits the higher mtow.