Airbus has been forced to modify the nose landing gear and forward fuselage of the newly launched A330-200F to enable the aircraft to better suit its new role as a cargo carrier. The redesign has required the incorporation of a blister fairing on the underside of the nose to accommodate the revised gear layout.
Airbus says that the modification was required to address the nose-down pitch that is a characteristic of the A330 (and the A340), to provide a level cabin floor during loading. "This makes it easier to load cargo pallets into the aircraft," says Airbus.
The A330/A340's distinctive nose-down pitch - which is greater than intended in the original design and only emerged when production of the aircraft began in the early 1990s - was a problem that Airbus had addressed on the first version of the A350.
The revamped nose gear bay is accommodated in a blister fairing
Sources say that Airbus studied several options for the A330F, including the incorporation of a new longer nosegear leg that articulated to fit into the existing bay geometry. However, this would have reduced commonality with the large in-service fleet of passenger aircraft, so Airbus says that it has adopted a solution based on that planned for the old A350. "We've retained the existing nose gear, but lowered the leg attachment points to raise the nose height," says Airbus.
However, whereas the A350 had a new deeper nose profile to incorporate the underfloor flightcrew rest compartment, which enabled the revised configuration to be accommodated within the existing fuselage profile, on the A330 the nosegear bay will protrude and is encased in a blister fairing. "The new configuration requires a larger gear bay," says Airbus.
Significantly, cargo industry sources say that any future passenger-to-freighter conversion programme for the A330 is likely to require a similar modification.
The A330-200F has a payload of 64t and a range of 7,400km (4,000nm). It received its industrial launch last week and has secured commitments for 32 aircraft from three customers - lessors Intrepid Aviation Group and Guggenheim Aviation Partners and Indian cargo start-up Flyington Freighters. Deliveries will begin in late 2009.