Airbus to offer heavier A330 against delayed 787

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Airbus is making a higher-gross weight version of the A330-200 available in the first half of 2010 in hopes of capturing new market share caused by Boeing 787 delays.

Derek Davies, Airbus' investor marketing director, told the US Valuation Conference hosted by ATI affiliate Commercial Aviation Online that the modification will increase maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) for the passenger airliner by 5t. The top rating will increase from 233t to 238t.

Airbus expects the higher takeoff weight limit will improve the A330-200's comparison with the 787.

Davies's presentation included a chart showing how the 238t version of the A330-200 compares against the "initial deliveries" of the 787. Afterward, Davies defined the term "initial deliveries" as the first 20 787s that complete final assembly.

The 238t version of the A330-200 would have a range of 6,840nm, Davies said.

By contrast, Davies added, the range for the 219.5t 787-8 would be limited to 6,720nm.

That number sharply contrasts with Boeing's publicly listed notional range for the 787-8, which spreads from 7,650nm to 8,000nm.

Asked about the discrepancy, Davies answered that Airbus has updated their analysis of the 787's performance specifications based on market intelligence. Airbus now expects the first 20 787s to have a 2% higher fuel burn and "tons" of extra operating empty weight added to the baseline specification.

Boeing officials were not available at the CAO conference and did not immediately reply to a request for comment.