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The aircraft delivers improved fuel efficiency over older-generation A330s, which are Airbus’ smallest widebodies. And the aerospace giant is also touting improvements the A330neo will provide in terms of the passenger experience.
“We are here to compete with the 787 and improve our own aircraft,” Silvia Utupske, an A330neo product marketer told a gathering of journalists in Chicago.
Utupske spoke as she passed through the U.S. from her base in the Airbus headquarters city of Toulouse as part of the proving test tour for the aircraft.
TAP hopes to put the A330neo into operation this fall, but the aircraft must first obtain certification from the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency. Airbus and TAP demonstrated the new aircraft to reporters during a proving run Friday between Chicago and Atlanta, part of a 16-city testing tour that is taking place over 18 days.
Airbus says the A330neo will be 25% more fuel efficient per seat than older-generation A330s. Efficiency increases will come through a larger Rolls Royce Trent engine and through improvements in the wing length and wing aerodynamics. With a standard three-class configuration of 287 seats, the A330neo-900 variant, which is the first to take to the sky, is also 10 seats larger than the A330-300 it is replacing.
Thus far, 14 airlines have ordered a total of 214 A330neos, among them Delta, which expects to take delivery of the first of the 25 A330neos it has ordered next year. Delta will use those aircraft to replace aging Boeing 767s.
Aside from efficiency, Airbus says the A330neo was designed to provide a consistent quality experience to passengers. Airlines, of course, will choose how they configure the planes. But they’ll all be able to take advantage of deeper passenger bins, which will fit five full-size carry-ons in a space where only three can be placed on older-generation A330s, said Roser Roca-Toha, Airbus aircraft interiors marketing director for the Americas.
Another passenger-friendly feature, Roca-Toha said, is sophisticated LED lighting that can produce 17 million different colors, allowing airlines the ability to tone lighting to improve atmosphere for various times of the flight. The aircraft often have new interior window features designed to stream light into the aircraft.