Airbus will assemble the first high gross weight version of the A330neo next year as it aims for certification and service entry in mid-2020.

The 251t maximum take-off weight (MTOW) version was launched earlier this year and Airbus has already begun manufacturing parts for the higher-weight variant. The increase provides the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered twinjet with 650nm (1,200km) additional range.

This raises the -900’s range to 7,200nm and the -800’s to 8,150nm.

“We are adding 9t [to the MTOW], which means we will reinforce parts of the aircraft – a collection of minor reinforcements here and there, especially on the wing and fuselage,” says A330neo chief engineer François Kubica.

“For every kilogramme that we add for reinforcement, we will remove one kilogramme in weight-saving. We want this aircraft to have exactly the same weight.”

The 251t variant will have reinforced nose and main landing-gear along with new tyres and brakes.

Its gear will also feature improved fatigue and corrosion resistance which will allow the inspection interval to be extended by two years to 12 years. “This will be a really big advantage for airlines,” Kubica says.