The Airbus A330 is a medium- to long-range wide-body twin-engine jet airliner made by Airbus. Versions of the A330 have a range of 5,000 to 13,430 kilometres (2,700 to 7,250 nautical miles; 3,110 to 8,350 miles) and can accommodate up to 335 passengers in a two-class layout or carry 70 tonnes (154,000 pounds) of cargo.

The A330’s origin dates to the mid-1970s as one of several conceived derivatives of Airbus’s first airliner, the A300. The A330 was developed in parallel with the four-engine A340, which shared many common airframe components but differed in number of engines. Both airliners incorporated fly-by-wire flight control technology, first introduced on an Airbus aircraft with the A320, as well as the A320’s six-display glass cockpit. In June 1987, after receiving orders from various customers, Airbus launched the A330 and A340. The A330 was Airbus’s first airliner that offered a choice of three engine types: General Electric CF6, Pratt & Whitney PW4000, and Rolls-Royce Trent 700.

The A330-300, the first variant, took its maiden flight in November 1992 and entered passenger service with Air Inter in January 1994. Airbus followed up with the slightly shorter A330-200 variant in 1998. Subsequently-developed A330 variants include a dedicated freighter, the A330-200F, a military tanker, the A330 MRTT, and a corporate jet, ACJ330. The A330 MRTT formed the basis of the proposed KC-45, entered into the US Air Force’s KC-X competition with Northrop Grumman, where after an initial win, on appeal lost to Boeing’s tanker.

Since its launch, the A330 has allowed Airbus to expand market share in wide-body airliners. Competing twinjets include the Boeing 767 and 777, along with the 787. The long-range Airbus A350 XWB was planned to succeed both the A330 and A340. Airbus intends to replace the current A330 (referred to as the A330ceo (current engine option) since 2014) with the A330neo, which includes new engines and other improvements. As of July 2019, A330 orders stand at 1,739, of which 1,463 have been delivered and 1,423 remain in operation. The largest operator is Turkish Airlines with 68 A330s in its fleet.

Design

A Cyprus Airways A330-200, showing the long slender wing

The A330 is a medium-size, wide-body aircraft, with two engines suspended on pylons under the wings. A two-wheel nose undercarriage and two four-wheel bogie main legs built by Messier-Dowty support the aeroplane on the ground. Its MTOW grew from 212 tonnes (467,000 lb) at introduction to 242 tonnes (534,000 lb) in 2015, enhancing its payload-range performance. John Leahy states that it was intentionally being held down in takeoff weight and performance because Airbus avoided overlapping with the A340.

The airframe of the A330 features a low-wing lever monoplane with a wing virtually identical to that of the A340-200/300. On the A330-300, one engine is installed at the inboard pylon while the outboard pylon position is not used; for the A340-300, both engine pylons are used, which allows the A340-300 wing to sustain a higher (wing limited) MTOW. This is as the A340’s two engines at each wing provide a more equal force distribution (engine weight) over the wing, while also the total engine weight counteracting moment is located more outboard with more engine weight located further outboard on the wing, hence the wing root bending moment with equal TOW is less on the A340-300 than on the A330-300. The wings were designed and manufactured by BAe, which developed a long slender wing with a very high aspect ratio to provide high aerodynamic efficiency.

The wing is swept back at 30 degrees and, along with other design features, allows a maximum operating Mach number of 0.86. The wing has a very high thickness-to-chord ratio of 12.8 per cent, which means that a long span and high aspect ratio can be attained without a severe weight penalty. For comparison, the rival MD-11 has a thickness-to-chord ratio of 8–9 per cent. Each wing also has a 2.74 m (9 ft 0 in) tall winglet instead of the wingtip fences found on earlier Airbus aircraft.

The shared wing design with the A340 allowed the A330 to incorporate aerodynamic features developed for the former aircraft. The failure of International Aero Engines’ radical ultra-high-bypass V2500 “SuperFan”, which had promised around 15 per cent fuel burn reduction for the A340, led to multiple enhancements including wing upgrades to compensate. Originally designed with a 56 m (180 ft) span, the wing was later extended to 58.6 m (190 ft) and finally to 60.3 m (200 ft). At 60.3 m (200 ft), the wingspan is similar to that of the larger Boeing 747–200, but with 35 percent less wing area.

The A330/A340 cockpit used the A320’s six-screen design.

The A330 and A340 fuselage is based on that of the Airbus A300-600, with many common parts, and has the same external and cabin width: 5.64 m (19 ft) and 5.26 m (17 ft). Typical seating arrangements are 2–2–2 six-abreast in business class and 2–4–2 eight-abreast in economy class. The fin, rudder, elevators, horizontal tail plane are used as fuel tank, flaps, ailerons and spoilers; they are made of composite materials, making 10% of the structure weight. When necessary, the A330 uses the Honeywell 331–350C auxiliary power unit (APU) to provide pneumatics and electrical power.

The A330 shares the same glass cockpit flight deck layout as the A320 and the A340, featuring electronic instrument displays rather than mechanical gauges. Instead of a conventional control yoke, the flight deck features side-stick controls, six main displays, and the Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS), which covers navigation and flight displays, as well as the Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor (ECAM). Apart from the flight deck, the A330 also has the fly-by-wire system common to the A320 family, the A340, the A350, and the A380. It also features three primary and two secondary flight control systems, as well as a flight envelope limit protection system which prevents maneuvers from exceeding the aircraft’s aerodynamic and structural limits.

Engines

From the beginning of the TA9’s development, a choice of engines from the three major engine manufacturers, Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and GE Aviation, was planned. GE Aviation first offered the CF6-80C2. However, later studies indicated that more thrust was needed to increase the initial power capability from 267 to 289 kN (60,000 to 65,000 lbf). GE enlarged the CF6-80C2 fan from 236 to 244 centimetres (92.9 to 96.1 in) and reduced the number of fan blades from 38 to 34 to create the CF6-80E1 with a thrust of 300–320 kN (67,000–72,000 lbf).

Rolls-Royce initially wanted to use the 267 kN (60,000 lbf) Trent 600 to power Airbus’s newest twinjet and the upcoming McDonnell Douglas MD-11. However, the company later agreed to develop an engine solely for the A330, the Trent 700, with a larger diameter and 311 kN (69,900 lbf) of thrust. The A330 became the first Airbus aircraft on which Rolls-Royce supplied engines.

Similarly, Pratt & Whitney signed an agreement that covered the development of the A330-exclusive PW4168. The company increased the fan size from 94 in (2.39 m) to 100 in (2.54 m), enabling the engine to deliver 311 kN (69,900 lbf) of thrust. Like the CF6-80E1, 34 blades were used instead of the 38 found on the smaller PW4000 engines.

New Engine Option

The A330neo (“neo” for “New Engine Option”) is a development from the initial A330 (now A330ceo — “Current Engine Option”). A new version with modern engines developed for the Boeing 787 was called for by owners of the current A330. It was launched in July 2014 at the Farnborough Airshow, promising 14% better fuel economy per seat. It will use the larger Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 exclusively. Its two versions are based on the A330-200 and -300: the -800 should cover 8,150 nmi (15,090 km) with 257 passengers while the -900 should cover 7,200 nmi (13,330 km) with 287 passengers. The -900 made its first flight on 19 October 2017, received its EASA type certificate on 26 September 2018, and was first delivered to TAP Air Portugal on 26 November. The -800 made its first flight on 6 November 2018, aiming for a mid-2019 type certification for a first half of 2020 delivery.

Beluga XL (A330-743L)

Airbus started design of a replacement aircraft for the Beluga in November 2014. The Beluga XL is based on the Airbus A330, and has 30% more space than its predecessor. Like its predecessor, the Airbus Beluga, the Beluga XL features an extension on its fuselage top, and can accommodate two A350 wings instead of one. The new aircraft rolled out of the assembly line on 4 January 2018, and made its maiden flight on 19 July 2018. It is expected to commence operations between different Airbus factories in the first quarter of 2019.

Operators

As of February 2019, there are 1,405 examples of all A330 variants in airline service, comprising 619 A330-200s, 38 -200Fs, 745 -300s and 3 -900s. The airline operators are Turkish Airlines (66), Air China (59), China Eastern Airlines (51), China Southern Airlines (50), Delta Air Lines (42), and other operators with fewer aircraft.

In November 2017, 1,190 are transporting passengers with 106 airlines, with the top 29 operating two-thirds of the fleet, 800 aircraft: 530 -200s and 660 A330-300s, mainly high-gross-weight with 36 original shorter-range A330-300s, half of them built since January 2010. Its average sector is 2,000 nmi (3,700 km) and their longest flight is 6,000 nmi (11,000 km) from Buenos Aires to Rome by Aerolíneas Argentinas for the -200, and 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) from Paris to Reunion by Corsair and French Blue for the -300. Of operators of at least five A330s, 17 have ordered A350-900s, 11 have ordered B787-8/9s, 13 both, 3 have ordered A330neos and 2 both A330neos and A350s, and 14 haven’t yet decided a replacement.

Orders and deliveries

 OrdersDeliveries
TypeTotalBacklogTotal2019201820172016201520142013201220112010
A330-200660236374141621302843374032
A330-200F42438  23358845
A330-300789217683324942707557564350
A330-80010100          
A330-90023821820173        
Total1,7392761,463244967661031081081018787
 Deliveries
 20092008200720062005200420032002200120001999199819971996199519941993
A330-200384942392925193616274012     
A330-200F                 
A330-300382326232722126191641114103091
Total76726862564731423543442314103091

Data through 31 July 2019

Specifications

Airbus A330 specifications
 A330-200A330-200FA330-300
Cockpit crewTwo
Capacity246 (36J @ 60 in + 210Y @ 32 in)70,000 kg (154,324 lb)300 (36J @ 60 in + 264Y @ 32 in)
Max seating406 440
Length58.82 m (192.98 ft)63.67 m (208.89 ft)
SpanWing: 60.3 m (197.83 ft), Main gear: 12.61 m (41.37 ft)
Wing361.6 m2 (3,892 sq ft), 25% chord wingsweep: 30°, 10.06 Aspect ratio
Height17.39 m / 57 ft16.90 m / 55 ft 5 in16.79 m / 55 ft
Fuselage5.64 m (222 in) diameter, 5.26 m (207 in) cabin width
Seat width0.46 m (18 in) in 8 abreast economy, 0.53 m (21 in) in 6 abreast business
Cargo volume132.4 m³ (4673 cu ft)469.2 m³ (16567 cu ft)158.4 m³ (5591 cu ft)
MTOW242,000 kg (533,519 lb)233,000 kg (513,677 lb)242,000 kg (533,519 lb)
OEW120,600 kg (265,900 lb)109,400 kg (241,200 lb)129,400 kg (285,300 lb)
Max Payload49,400 kg (108,900 lb)68,600 kg (151,200 lb)45,600 kg (100,500 lb)
Fuel capacity139,090 L (36,744 US gal) – 109,185 kg (240,712 lb)
Engines (×2)GE CF6 (except -200F) / PW4000 / Trent 700
Thrust (×2)64,500–71,100 lbf (287–316 kN)
CruiseMach 0.82 (470 kn; 871 km/h), 12,500 m (41,100 ft) Service ceiling
Range13,450 km / 7,250 nmi7,400 km / 4,000 nmi11,750 km / 6,350 nmi
RunwayTakeoff: 2,770 m (9,090 ft), Landing: 1,730 m (5,680 ft)

Aircraft model designations

A330 family schematic
EASA Type Certificate Data Sheet
ModelCertification DateEngines
A330-20131 October 2002General Electric CF6-80E1A2
A330-20231 March 1998General Electric CF6-80E1A4
A330-20320 November 2001General Electric CF6-80E1A3
A330-22313 July 1998Pratt & Whitney PW4168A/4170
A330-223F9 April 2010Pratt & Whitney PW4170 (Freighter)
A330-24311 January 1999Rolls-Royce Trent 772B/C-60
A330-243F9 April 2010Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 (Freighter)
A330-30121 October 1993General Electric CF6-80E1A2
A330-30217 May 2004General Electric CF6-80E1A4
A330-30317 May 2004General Electric CF6-80E1A3
A330-3212 June 1994Pratt & Whitney PW4164
A330-3222 June 1994Pratt & Whitney PW4168
A330-32322 April 1999Pratt & Whitney PW4168A/4170
A330-34122 December 1994Rolls-Royce Trent 768-60
A330-34222 December 1994Rolls-Royce Trent 772-60
A330-34313 September 1999Rolls-Royce Trent 772B/C-60
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