Airbus flew the A330neo for the first time on Thursday, an upgraded version of its popular A330 wide-body jet.
The maiden flight of the aircraft, an A330-900 powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, took off from Airbus’s Toulouse base and lasted 4 hours 13 minutes.
The first flight is part of the planned 1,100 hours testing of the -900, the larger version of the A330neo. Airbus hopes to wrap up flight testing of the -900 by the middle of 2018. The smaller -800 will undergo an additional 300 hours of flight tests to achieve its European EASA and US FAA Type Certification during 2019.
The A330-800 will seat 257 passengers in a three class configuration, while the A330-900 will accommodate up to 287 seats in three classes.
“Today’s first flight of the A330neo marks yet another milestone along the Airbus journey of continuous innovation,” Airbus president of commercial aircraft Fabrice Brégier said. “We look forward to a successful flight test campaign and entry into service of the A330neo in 2018.”
The A330neo is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines. The 7000s employ technology Rolls developed for the Boeing 787’s Trent 1000-TEN, and the Airbus A350’s Trent XWB power plants. Rolls says the 7000 improves fuel consumption by 10 percent over the previous generation Trent 700 used on current model A330s.
Airbus has taken 212 orders for the neo, 206 for the A330-900 and six for A330-800s. The A330-900 is scheduled to enter commercial service next year with TAP Portugal.