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A330neo maiden flight date still hazy

Rolls-Royce is progressing with assembly of the initial flight-test Trent 7000 engines for the Airbus A330neo, although a maiden flight date has yet to become clear.

The engine manufacturer, in its full-year financial presentation, gave the entry-into-service date for the aircraft as the first half of 2018.

TAP Portugal, the initial operator, has previously indicated that it expects to receive the first A330neo in the first quarter of that year.

Rolls-Royce has not clarified whether the difference in phrasing is indicative of a further slip to the schedule, but its use of “first half” for the entry-into-service timeframe is similar to that voiced by Airbus commercial aircraft chief Fabrice Bregier in January.

Bregier had mentioned that TAP planned services in “spring 2018” and that the A330neo development effort was “compatible” with this.

Rolls-Royce has already conducted ground tests of the powerplant and says assembly of the first flight-test engines is continuing.

Chief Warren East stated, during a briefing on the company’s full-year results, that the Trent 1000-TEN for the Boeing 787 was on schedule for service entry in the second half of this year, as was the Trent XWB-97 engine on the Airbus A350-1000.

“On the new A330 with the [Trent] 7000 engine – that is about six months behind,” added East. “But it’s on a similar trajectory, and that [aircraft] will fly with its new engine for the first time over the coming months.”

The engine will not be installed on a testbed aircraft but fitted straight to an A330neo certification airframe.

Airbus has not narrowed the timeframe for the maiden flight, stating only that it will take place in the first half of this year.

Rolls-Royce attributed higher research and development charges last year to increased spending on key programmes, particularly the Trent 7000.

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