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Aviation Special: A330: versatile, efficient widebody family member

By Huang Mengxin | China Daily | Updated: 2010-11-17 07:57

 Aviation Special: A330: versatile, efficient widebody family member

A330-200 is recognized as a no-risk, alternative, for both the short haul and the long haul, to larger long-range airliners. Provided to China Daily

The A330 fleet includes cargo, private jet, and military transport planes and has attracted more than 1,000 orders and product improvements mean that it is still the most cost-efficient aircraft in its class.

The A330 fleet has a record of more than 15 million flight hours and 3.7 million landings. More than 650 aircraft are now in service.

With a range of 7,250 nautical miles (13,427 km) and a passenger load of 253, the smaller A330-200 has the versatility to cover everything from short haul to long haul and is ideal for point-to-point operations.

Currently, as more A320 "single-aisle" operators discover the advantages of the "twin-aisle" A330-200, they recognize its merits as a compelling, no-risk, alternative to larger long-range airliners.

The larger A330-300 has a range of 5,850 nautical miles (10,834 km) and a passenger load of 295 and has maintained its position as the most economical twin-aisle regional airliner for the foreseeable future.

From the passenger's perspective, the A330 offers the latest in in-flight entertainment, including video-on-demand, mobile phones and email via satellite.

The A330-200 also now offers a higher takeoff weight of 238 metric tons. This translates to a range of around 330 more nautical miles (611 km), giving the aircraft a 7,250-nautical-mile (13,427 km) distance, or an additional 3.4 tons in payload.

To ensure that this extra range is fully used, the A330 has been certified by European Aviation Safety Agency for extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards (ETOPS) from 180 to 240 minutes. This will help further by allowing bigger payloads and schedule reliability, and lower fuel use, CO2 emissions and flight time.

Airbus is also incorporating other technical improvements to make it eco-efficient and to reduce the cost of operation.

New cargo model

The first A330-200 cargo plane has completed its flight test and has been certificated and is ready for delivery.

With a lower empty weight than was initially expected, the A330-200F offers two operational configurations depending on the mission. It can carry more than 65 metric tons over 4,000 nautical miles (7,400km), or more than 70 metric tons for 3,200 nautical miles (5,930km).

A new fuselage cross-section gives it flexibility to carry a wide variety of pallets and containers, offering 30 percent more volume than any freighter in its class. There are already 66 orders from 11 customers.

Military flexibility

The Airbus Military A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is the most advanced, cost-effective model today. It has the large 111,000 kg basic fuel capacity of the A330-200, from which it is derived. This allows the A330 MRTT to excel in air-to-air refueling missions without requiring any additional fuel tanks. It has a choice of different air refueling systems including an advanced aerial refueling boom system, or hose and drogue wing pods or fuselage refueling unit.

Its wide-body fuselage allows the A330 MRTT to be used as a transport aircraft able to carry up to 380 people or a payload of 45 tons.

There are now 28 orders for the A330 MRTT. It recently received civilian certification and is due to gain military certification prior to first delivery in 2010 to the Royal Australian Air Force.

Maintenance cost reduced

Operators will also welcome the news that the A330 recently got a significant maintenance cost improvement because of the optimization of scheduled maintenance intervals.

These comprise an extension of the "A-check" interval from 600 flight hours to 800 flight hours, as well as an extension of the heavy maintenance check interval from 10, to 12 years.

Additional maintenance cost savings result from the latest lower-deck "cargo loading system" design which helps deliver a substantial maintenance cost reduction from the reduction in the number of required maintenance tasks.

(China Daily 11/17/2010 page14)

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