FARNBOROUGH: A320neo lessons shorten A330neo schedule

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Airbus is aiming to take advantage of the learning process for the A320neo to cut the time to market for its re-engined A330neo.

While Airbus intends to bring the A320neo into service just under five years from launch, it is ambitiously projecting a development period of just 42 months for the A330-800/900neo.

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier says the use of a derivative engine, rather than the new ones for the A320neo, is a "big de-risking factor".

“We have learned a lot of lessons, of course, in building the A320neo,” adds Airbus executive vice-president for strategy Kiran Rao. “Which is why we are able to do the A330neo in a shorter period of time.”

He says airline customers are asking for the A330neo “as soon as they can get it”.

Airbus is planning to put the A330neo, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, into service in the fourth quarter of 2017. The Trent 7000 is a derivative of the Trent 1000 for the Boeing 787.

Aerodynamic changes, including new wing-tips, will increase the A330neo wing span to around 64m. Airbus is also implementing a weight-reduction project which will cut 800kg.

“Because of the fuel prices that we have today, the cost of fuel represents half of the total cost of operating an aircraft,” says Rao.

“Taking the A330 as the platform, we have worked with our partners from Rolls Royce to develop an engine that will give us significant fuel burn savings.”

He claims the A330neo will deliver a 14% fuel-burn improvement per seat, which will “make us as efficient as today's 787”.

“If we couple that with the lower maintenance costs and the higher passenger count of the A330 we have an airplane that will deliver lower cash operating costs than that of the 787,” he says. “If we put everything together we will have a much better proposition to the airlines than the 787 has.”