FARNBOROUGH: Airbus set to hike A330 weight to brush up performance

Farnborough
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Airbus is today likely to unveil a programme to improve the performance on its A330 family, raising the maximum take-off weight of the type to increase its competitiveness against the Boeing 787.

The airframer has discussed the possibility of raising the weight to 240t - the figure is currently 238t for the -200 and 235t for the -300 - in order to offer greater range and payload capability.

While the adoption of modified wing-tips, similar to the sharklets on the A320, has been discussed, the A330 modernisation is unlikely to feature them, and the changes to the type will be relatively modest.

Airbus has previously indicated that it wants to tweak the performance of the A330 - taking its range up by around 400nm (740km) - but has yet to confirm a formal programme effort.

But a source familiar with the situation indicates that the airframer is gearing up to disclose improvements, amounting to new weight variants rather than a newly-branded model, across the A330 family.

The airframer revealed only that it has a "product" announcement planned at the Farnborough air show today.

It has, however, been exploring ways to enhance the A330's appeal to the long-haul market, particularly following the introduction of the rival 787 and ahead of service entry of Airbus's own A350. The airframer could examine whether the discontinuation of the A340 line offers any obvious weight benefits from production changes.

Three engine manufacturers supply the A330 programme. Rolls-Royce would not specifically confirm an engine update for the type but says it continues to examine ways to "flow back technology" from its newer Trent programmes to older powerplants, including the A330's Trent 700.

Pratt & Whitney believes its Advantage70 version of the PW4000 would cope with the take-off weight increase. General Electric provides the CF6 as a third powerplant option.