Today La Tribune reports that Airbus is going to increase the MTOW of the A330-300 by five tonnes to 240 tonnes. This should enable the A330-300 to increase its range by 400 miles. The additional weight will be offset by weight reduction from the design where A340 requirements are no longer needed. The A340 and A330 share a common fuselage.
The move is clearly not only to occupy the segment forgone by the elimination of the A340, it is also an attempt to close the perceived gap between the A330 as we know it and the Boeing 787, which offers longer range.
Airbus newest product, the A350, will be larger than the 787 and similar in size to the 777 series. Boeing has two models that bracket the A350; the 787 at the lower end and the 777 on the upper end. By adding more capabilities to the A330 Airbus closes what many have thought to be a key gap on the smaller side of the market.
According La Tribune Airbus should be able to offer this enhanced -300 between three and four years from now.
The A330 is proving to be a remarkably resilient and flexible design. John Leahy, Airbus COO Customers, points out that since the announcement of the 787, Airbus has sold 740 A330s. Clearly writing off the A330 is premature, and Airbus enhancements should provide additional life to an already successful program.