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.
The A330 is a great cash cow for Airbus. It makes sense to want to improve it because it still sells very well, and if they want to keep the momentum going they have to make it even more attractive, especially against newer aircraft like the 787. For a relatively modest investment than can make the A330 even more competitive than it is right now. But would this be just an interim solution so that they can come up with a new engine offering later on?
Anyway, we haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait for Boeing to reveal the design details of the 777X. There is even more potential to extract from that venerable bird than from the A330. The development cost would be higher than it will be for the A330, but that is the price Boeing has to pay to maintain the dominant position they enjoy with the 777.
A330/A340 commonality is very high and it includes the wing.
IMHO the 777 already had some intense liposuction sessions.
Boeing insinuating that there still is much flab, easily stripped,
around is imho a feelgood statement.