Why The Airbus A330neo Is Changing Commercial Aviation

Recently, Simple Flying had the chance to review the Hi-Fly A330neo before it entered service (and you can check out a video of our visit here). But many have asked us why the A330neo series is such a game-changer and how it will change the face of global aviation.

Hi Fly
The Hi Fly A330neo takes off. Photo: Hi Fly

Why is it a good aircraft?

The A330neo series is a brand new aircraft line from Airbus and is an update to their successful A330 line. Much like the A320 upgrade to the A320neo, the A330neo brings a whole heap of new features that airlines and passengers will love.

Some of these features include quieter engines (very powerful Rolls Royce Trent 7000 engines), a brand new wing (reducing fuel burn by 14%), a bigger range of +400 nautical miles, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, more seats onboard without reducing passenger comfort.

Plus, passengers can enjoy an improved cabin experience with bigger overhead bins, mood lighting, quieter inflight noise and a new entertainment system (one that saves 400kg of weight!).

the a330neo
The specs for the A330-900neo look pretty impressive. Photo: Airbus

There are actually two types of A330neo aircraft:

  • The A330-800 can carry up to 406 passengers (typically 257) to a range 8,150nmi / 15,094 km. This aircraft is weighted towards range and distance.
  • The A330-900, as the big brother, can carry up to 440 passengers (average 287 in a three-class layout) to a range of 7,200nmi / 13,334 km. This aircraft is weighted towards passengers.

There is a little confusion of the actual model name of the aircraft. Airbus lists them as A330-800 and A330-900 but other sources, use terms like the A330neo (collective) and the A330neo-800. We will use all three terms interchangeably in this article.

Why The Airbus A330neo Is Changing Commercial Aviation
The wing on the A330neo is brand new. Photo: Airbus

The A330neo type rating

One of the first massive advantages of the A330neo is that it shares high commonality with its predecessor, the A330-200 and A330-300. This is actually closer commonality than even the Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

The new features of the A330neo. Photo: Simple Flying / Airbus

Hence, pilots don’t have to retrain to fly the new A330 and therefore airlines don’t have to pay for that training. The cabins have been reimagined but still remain the same layout for passengers.

It is designed perfectly for the market

According to research done by Airbus, the most common aircraft demanded by airlines is in the 200-300 passenger class for a flight time of 6-8 hours. Additionally, most airlines want at least a business class cabin onboard, which the A330neo has plenty of space for.

Why The Airbus A330neo Is Changing Commercial Aviation
The business class onboard the A330neo. Photo: Hi Fly

As Hi Fly has experienced, there is plenty of demand for an aircraft of this type and they have had no problem finding clients.

How the A330 sits in the market, with airline mission profiles. Photo: Simple Flying / Airbus

Replacing the 777, 767 and A330

One of the last major reasons why the A330neo is so brilliant is that it is actually perfectly set up to replace not just it’s progenitor the A330… but a range of other aircraft as well.

As we mentioned above, it’s flight profile perfectly suits:

  • The A330 series.
  • The Boeing 777 series. With delays to the 777X program, many airlines are nervously looking towards Airbus for a successor to the large Boeing. We even suspect that the Hi Fly aircraft could be used to tempt airlines to buy the A330neo as they trial the wet-leased aircraft.
  • The retired Boeing 767 series. With the Boeing 797 still a distant dream and the 767 no longer being built for passenger transport, there isn’t really a middle of market solution yet from Boeing. Only the A330-800 meets the demands of the market.
Boeing 777X airline orders
The Boeing 777X is still delayed and won’t fly till 2020. Photo: Boeing

Does the market really want the A330-800?

Some critics have mentioned that the A330-800neo has not sold as well as the A330-200 did when it was first launched and that the A330-900neo is selling far better.

As mentioned by Airbus at the recent Hi-Fly event, there are two major reasons why airlines have been slow to buy the A330-800. The first is that there are still plenty of young A330-200s on the market that airlines don’t need to replace (some under 10 years old). Plus, there is a vast second-hand market of A330s (a side effect of building such a well-selling series) that means airlines don’t really need to order new right now. Airbus is confident that sales will increase soon.

What do you think? Is the A330neo a great aircraft or is there a better aircraft being built by someone else? Let us know in the comments.