Paul Lewis/WASHINGTON DC Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

Airbus Industrie is looking at offering three distinct versions of the proposed A330-100, with International Lease Finance (ILFC) pushing for development of a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW) derivative with an extended range over 13,000km (7,000nm). The leasing company is also finalising an order for up to 35 Boeing 777-200ER/300ERs.

The European consortium has already identified two target markets. One is for an 8,325km-range A330-100 and the second a longer-haul 12,395km version of the 210-250-seat aircraft for European-US West Coast operations. The medium-range jet would have an MTOW of 195t and the inter-continental version 221t, to compete with the Boeing 767-300ER.

"We are approaching this product development as an aircraft that will fill a multitude of requirements-we know that within that aircraft there is the potential for the development of a version with greater range. This aircraft could certainly fly further than 7,000nm," says Colin Stewart, Airbus marketing vice-president.

ILFC is understood to be among the prime drivers behind a third extended-range version of the A330-100, tentatively designated A330-100C. The aircraft would have an MTOW of 230t, equivalent to the shorter-range 335-seat A330-300, and serve as a direct counter to Boeing's proposed extended-range 767-400ERX.

ILFC sees a requirement for as many as 30 extended-range A330-100 versions similar in size to the number of 777-100Xs it had been discussing with Boeing. Airline and manufacturer interest in a smaller 777, however, has waned in the face of marginal operating economics.

To keep development costs to a minimum, Airbus is stressing maximum commonality between the A330-100 and the -200/300 and has abandoned a proposed hybrid design incorporating the A300-600's wing. The lower gross weight aircraft could feature a lighter wing structure, while the heavier versions would use the -200's centre fuel tank.

Plans to power the A330-100 with the new Rolls-Royce Trent 500 have been dropped in favour of the Trent 700, along with the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 and General Electric CF6-80E1. The aircraft will need a powerplant of 58,000-72,000lb thrust (258-320kN) .

ILFC, in the meantime, is negotiating for up to 27 777-200ERs and eight long-range stretch -300ERs. The leasing company would be the third customer to order the 365-seat 777-300ER after Japan Airlines and EVA Air, which have announced deals for14 aircraft.

While the 777-300ER will be powered by the General Electric GE90-115B, it plans to compete for the 27 remaining 777-200ERs. ILFC has already ordered 19 GE90-powered -200ERS.

Source: Flight International