Airbus has begun final assembly of the first A330-800, the second member of the A330neo family. First flight is scheduled for mid-2018, with entry into service expected in 2019.

The A330-800—which is based on the A330-200 and retains the earlier aircraft’s fuselage length—complements the larger A330-900, which is a development of the A330-300.

The A330-900 flew for the first time in October 2017. Both aircraft incorporate Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, plus aerodynamic improvements and new cabin technologies.

With its baseline variant 242-tonne maximum takeoff weight (MTOW), the A330-800 can operate routes of up to 7,500nm. The recently launched 251-tonne MTOW variant is designed to tackle routes of up to 8,150nm.

The A330-800 will seat 257 passengers in a typical three-class layout, while being able to carry 406 in a high-density, single-class configuration.

It shares 99% commonality with the larger 300-seater A330-900, with the same airframe and engines. Both aircraft incorporate titanium pylons, new wings and the new Airspace by Airbus cabin. The most visible new features of the A330neo wings are the curved wingtip Sharklets, which draw on A350 XWB technology.

The new A330neo variants will have 25% less fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation competitors, Airbus said.

Alan Dron