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Airbus pitches higher-weight A330neo at transpacific sector

Airbus is expecting that a planned higher-weight version of the A330neo will provide a 650nm range hike compared with the current 242t variant.

It is putting the range of the A330-900, with a 251t maximum take-off weight, at 7,200nm while that for the A330-800 will increase to 8,150nm.

The airframer, which had previously indicated that it was pursuing a 251t option, believes it can keep the A330neo's empty weight and maximum zero-fuel weight unchanged.

Speaking during an event in Toulouse, A330 head of marketing Crawford Hamilton said the aircraft – set to enter service in 2020 – would need "minor" local reinforcement on the wing and fuselage.

The main and nose landing-gear would also need reinforcement, and would feature new tyres and brakes.

But he says these modifications will be offset by "compensation" through weight savings. "We know exactly where we can trim," says Hamilton, adding that the efficiency of the aircraft would be "uncompromised".

Airbus lists the maximum zero-fuel weights for the 242t A330-900 and -800 as 177t and 172t respectively.

Hamilton says the range increase will position the A330neo as a "true transpacific aircraft". He points out that, for the -900, the 251t version will offer a 1,450nm range increase over typical A330s currently in service.

Airbus is pitching the aircraft at the broader Asian market, looking beyond China, and Hamilton suggests the type could serve routes to Australia from Los Angeles.

Two A330-900 test aircraft are participating in the certification campaign, which Hamilton says is around 50% complete. The two Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered jets have logged 560h across 160 flights.

"We're gradually pushing the envelope of all our tests," says Hamilton, adding that performance is "in line with predictions".

Airbus conducted cold-weather tests in Kazakhstan with MSN1795 at the beginning of this month, when temperatures in Astana were as low as minus 27C.

Hamilton says Canada, the airframer's usual site for such tests, was "a little too warm" – the temperature at Iqaluit airport had been around minus 8C, although it dropped to about minus 20 by 3 March.

Airbus's second test aircraft, MSN1813, was recently flown to the USA to conduct natural icing tests at Milwaukee, before being taken to Merida in Mexico for the warm-weather checks.

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