Airbus also has analyzed the wing’s structural margins and has been able to build on work for the A330-200F.
An aerodynamic improvement package will provide 1% less fuel burn, and Airbus expects engine makers to achieve another 1% reduction. The inboard slat has been reshaped and the flap fairings shortened, but Airbus will not use new A320-style winglets, or “sharklets,” because that would have required significant changes to the wing.
Airbus for years has been developing performance and range improvements for the A330. This has caused the A330-300 to evolve from a medium-haul aircraft into one that now is able to fly most of the long sectors between Europe and North America; the current operational limits, however, keep the A330 from serving the longer intercontinental flights from Asia.
The new 242-ton A330-300 will have a 6,100-nm range at full passenger load, compared with 3,900 nm for the initial 212-ton version built from 1994. That first generation aircraft covered 65% of the Boeing 777-200ER markets because of its much-reduced range, but the latest upgrade will increase this to 94% from 2015.
The updated 242-ton variant also will be able to serve 91% of all existing long-haul markets out of London Heathrow Airport.
Airbus has received 613 firm orders for the A330-300, of which 426 have been delivered, while the A330-200 has 577 firm orders and 476 deliveries. The -300 continues to outsell the smaller -200, with 58 orders received for the -300 in 2012, compared with 11 for the -200. Airbus has delivered 32 -200s and 42 -300s so far this year.