First Flight of the Airbus A330neo
It was cloudy and overcast in Toulouse on the morning of 19th October.
The bunch of journalists, bloggers and assorted aviation analysts gathered at short notice for the occasion were told to expect the flight at around 10am. Yet, the green light was given slightly earlier, I guess to take advantage of a window of reasonably acceptable weather conditions.
And there were were, at Airbus Delivery Center, where aircraft are usually handed over to their new airline owners (there was, actually, a delivery ceremony for a Air Mauririus first A350 later on the same day)
After the excitement of the take-off, we had a full two hours to learn some details of the Airbus A330neo and what is new in this (not only) re-engined version of this popular aircraft model.
To the untrained eye it may look no different from a regular A330, but there are several relevant novelties in the A330neo that will benefit both airlines and passengers alike.
First there is the engine, of course since "neo" stand for "new engine option". The Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 is expected to deliver an efficiency improvement of up to 15% over the current version of the A330 (the "ceo version"), while a newly designed nacelle promises to reduce noise. A new pylon will also add to the aerodynamical efficiency of the type, as do an expanded wing and sharklets.
And there is of course the cabin, that will come out of the factory with the new Airspace by Airbus new generation interior.
Two hours later, with test A330neo MSN-1795 firmly in the ground after its first flight, it was time for the celebrations, with the many guests coming down to the tarmac for a close inspection of the aircraft and a few celebratory speeches by the test crew...and champagne, bien sur!
The flight testing programme is going to continue over the coming months with two other test aircraft.
The first "real", fare-paying, passengers that will be able to enjoy the improvements of the A330neo are going to be TAP's, as the Portuguese airline is going to be the launch customer for the type.
For additional information and visual material on the A330neo first flight, I recommend you check the reports by Addison Schonland (Airinsight) and Seth Miller (Apex), that were also in Toulouse for the occasion.