European aerospace giant Airbus has celebrated the maiden test flight of the A330-800. The new widebody, registered F-WTTO (c/n 1888) took to the air for the first time just after 10.30am on November 6 from the manufacturer’s delivery centre in Toulouse. Certification of the A330-800 is expected to take around 300 flight hours, with Airbus management hoping to receive regulatory approval in the second half of 2019. The new jet is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and boasts Airbus’ new wing and sharklet design.
The larger of the two A330neos, the A330-900, recently completed development testing, with certification awarded for key areas including its engines, systems and cabin, which it shares with the -800 model.
During the four-hour routing over south-western France, the multinational crew of five conducted a range of experimental flight tests, with pilots Malcolm Ridley and Francois Barre seated alongside engineer Ludovic Girard in the cockpit. Monitoring the aircraft systems and performance in real-time from a dedicated flight test engineer’s (FTE) station were Catherine Schneider and Jose Corugedo Bermejo.
Despite the success of the test flight, the wider project has encountered difficulties. Airbus faced a major setback in March this year when Hawaiian Airlines – the only customer for the new jet at the time – cancelled their order and defected to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. Since then, Kuwait Airways has been confirmed as the A330-800s new launch customer with six orders, while Uganda Airways has a memorandum of understanding for two. As of the end of October, Airbus holds firm orders for 232 aircaft within the A330neo family, of which 224 are for the larger A330-900 type.
Despite a sluggish start, management at Airbus are pinning longer-term hopes on airline’s sticking with a “winning formula” as their earlier generation A330-200s and -300s come to the end of their commercial life cycle. Impressive commonality with older members of the A330 family and over 99% between the -800 and -900 series, means flight crews require only a half-day conversion course as part of their training in order to make the step-up to the latest types.
Airliner World was at the Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse for the event, with a full report to follow in the February issue.