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Airbus accelerates plans to bring A330-100 into service

Airbus Industrie has brought forward its target entry-into-service date for the A330-100 to 2003. The move is an apparent effort to accelerate development of an A300/A310 replacement to meet Singapore Airlines' aircraft requirement, dubbed "W".

Speaking at the show, Airbus senior vice-president commercial John Leahy confirms that the shortened, re-winged, A330 could be launched by the end of this year and be available for delivery in 2003. Previously he had said the -100 would not be available until at least 2004.

"We are in the feasibility stage, but we plan to go to a further stage later in the year," says Leahy.

The 250-seat A330-100 would combine the cockpit, systems and basic fuselage structure of theA330 with a "cleaned up" A300-600 wing and new engines.

Leahy says improvements to the wing would include improved sealing of control surfaces and the addition of winglets, yielding "at least 5%" better specific fuel consumption (SFC) relative to the A300-600. Airbus looked at modifying the existing A330 wing, but "if you take these newer wings and change the dimensions, you have essentially SFCs that come out to be very similar", says Leahy.

The aircraft is likely to be offered with a choice of at least two powerplants. "It is not our goal at this point to have a single engine supplier," says Leahy. The candidates are versions of the General Electric CF6-80, the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 and the Rolls-Royce Trent 500 which powers the A340-500/600.

According to Leahy the consortium has the engineering resources to launch the A330-100 and A3XX simultaneously, with a go-ahead decision for the latter also expected by the end of 2000. "The A330-100 could be launched this year and not affect the timing of deliveries of the A3XX," he says.

Singapore Airlines has a requirement for up to 17 widebodies to replace its A310 fleet and has asked Airbus to offer A330-200s with the option of later converting the commitments to the A330-100.

Boeing is expected to offer 777-200As with the possibility of switching to its proposed 777-100X shrink (Flight International, 22-28 February).

German carrier Hapag-Lloyd, which also has a requirement to replace its A310s, is seen as another potential launch customer for the A330-100.

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