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The Airbus A330 is a large-capacity, wide-body, twin-engine, medium-to-long-range commercial passenger airliner. Built at Toulouse in France by Airbus, over 600 units have been delivered.

First flown in 1992 the A330 was developed at the same time as the four-engined Airbus A340 and shared common fuselage and wing components. The first variant (series 300) was delivered to Air Inter in 1994 and was followed by the slightly shorter series 200. This has been followed by dedicated freighter variants.

A multi-role tanker and transport variant based on the series 200 has been developed as the Airbus A330 MRTT, this was further developed as the Northrop Grumman KC-45 which won a United States Air Force order which has since been cancelled.

Design and development

The A330 and A340 programs were jointly launched in November 1987. Airlines purchased it to replace the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. The A330 is 38% more fuel efficient than the DC-10.

Airbus intended the A330 to compete directly in the ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operation Performance Standards) market, specifically with the Boeing 767. In November 2009 the A330 became the first aircraft to receive with ETOPS-240 approval, which is now offered by Airbus as an option. [24995].

The A330's fuselage and wings are virtually identical to those of the smaller A340 variants, although it has different engines. The A330 basic fuselage design is inherited from the Airbus A300, and the nose/cockpit section and the fly-by-wire system and flightdeck are inherited from the A320. Both the A330 and A340 are assembled on the same final assembly line at Toulouse-Blagnacmarker, Francemarker.

By the end of July 2008, a total of 1,006 A330s had been ordered and 555 delivered. The 1,000 milestone was passed with orders from the 2008 Farnborough Air Show. The largest operator of the A330 is Cathay Pacific with over 32 aircraft in service. Airbus expects the A330 to continue selling until at least 2015.


There are two main variants of the A330. The A330-300 was launched in 1987 with introduction into service in 1993. The A330-200 was launched in 1995, introduced in 1998 with passenger, freighter and tanker (Airbus A330 MRTT) variants available.


The A330-200 was developed to compete with the Boeing 767-300ER. The A330-200 is similar to the A340-200 and a shortened version of the A330-300. With poor sales of the A340-200 (of which only 28 were built), Airbus decided to use the fuselage of the A340-200 with the wings and engines of the A330-300. This significantly improved the economics of the plane and made the model more popular than the four-engined variant.

Its vertical fin is taller than that of the A330-300 to restore its effectiveness due to the shorter moment arm of the shorter fuselage. It has additional fuel capacity and, like the A330-300, has a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 233 tonnes. Typical range with 253 passengers in a three-class configuration is 12,500 km (6,750 nautical miles).

Power is provided by two General Electric CF6-80E, Pratt & Whitney PW4000 or Rolls-Royce Trent 700 gas turbine engines. First customer deliveries, to ILFC/Canada 3000, were in April 1998.

The A330-200 is available as an ultra-long range corporate-jet by Airbus Executive and Private Aviation. The Boeing equivalent is currently the 767-300ER and in the future will be the 787-8.


In May 2009, Airbus released plans for a higher gross weight version of the A330-200 to more effectively compete against the Boeing 787-8. This new version will have a 238 t MTOW and its new range will be up to . Airbus believes the first 20 787-8s will have a 219.5 t MTOW and be limited to a range, around less than the figures published by Boeing. Korean Air became the first customer on 27 February 2009, ordering six with deliveries starting in 2010.


Due to flagging A300-600F and A310F sales, Airbus began marketing a freighter derivative of the A330-200 around 2000-2001, although it was not launched at that time. The A330-200F re-emerged at the 2006 Farnborough Airshow and received its industrial go-ahead in January 2007. The first A330-200F has been rolled out in Toulouse on October 20, 2009. The first flight was on November 5, 2009.

Artist's concept of the A330-200F derivative

The A330-200F is a mid-size, long-haul all-cargo aircraft capable of carrying 64 tonnes over 4,000 NM / 7,400 km, or 69 tonnes up to 3,200 NM / 5,930 km. It introduces a new versatile main-deck cargo loading system that will be able to accommodate both pallets and containers. Several different arrangements will be possible on the main deck, taking up to 23 Side-by-Side (SBS) pallets, aimed at the high volume, high value commodities or Single Row (SR) loading of 16 pallets (96 in X 96 in X 125 in SR pallets) and/or nine AMA containers aimed at the general cargo higher density markets.

To overcome the standard A330's nose-down body angle on the ground, the A330F will use a revised nose landing gear layout. The same leg will be used, however its attachment points will be lower in the fuselage, requiring a distinctive blister fairing on the nose to accommodate the retracted nose-gear. This provides a level deck for cargo loading. Power is provided by two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 or Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines.

As of 15 November 2009, Airbus had 67 firm orders from nine customers: Aircastle (7), BOC Aviation (5), Etihad Airways (3), Flyington Freighters (12), Guggenheim Aviation Partners (2), Intrepid Aviation Group (20), MatlinPatterson (6), MNG Airlines (4), and OH, Avion LLC (8). Additionally ACT Airlines and Turkish Airlines have signed an MOU for 2 each. The first delivery will be to Etihad Crystal Cargo in Summer 2010. [24996]

Comparable freighters include Boeing's 767-300F & 777F, Lockheed's L-1011 Tristar (after conversion) and McDonnell Douglas' DC-10F & MD-11F.


The A330-300, which entered service in 1993, was developed as replacement for the A300. It is based on a stretched A300-600 fuselage but with new wings, stabilisers and fly-by-wire systems.

The A330-300 carries 295 passengers in a three-class cabin layout (335 in 2 class and 440 in single class layout) over a range of 10,500 km (5,650 nautical miles). It has a large cargo capacity, comparable to early Boeing 747s.

It is powered by two General Electric CF6-80E, Pratt & Whitney PW4000 or Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, all of which are ETOPS-180 min rated. French domestic airline Air Inter was the launch customer for the aircraft.

The direct Boeing equivalents are the Boeing 777-200 and the Boeing 767-400ER.

Tanker derivatives

Airbus A330 MRTT
The Multi-Role Transport and Tanker version (MRTT) of the A330-200 provides aerial refueling and strategic transport. To date it has been ordered by Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the UK.

Northrop Grumman KC-45
On 29 February 2008 the United States Air Force announced that an Americanmarker assembled variant of the A330 MRTT, now designated KC-45A by the USAF, had been selected to replace the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. The Air Force's fleet of KC-135 tankers has been in service since 1957, the last aircraft having been delivered in 1965. However, due to mistakes in the tanker selection process, outgoing Air Force head Michael Wynne told media that he expected the selection process to be repeated.


A330 deliveries

By the end of October 2009 a total of 1,031 aircraft of the A330 have been ordered (554 A330-200, 67 A330-200F and 410 A330-300) and 647 delivered (366 A330-200 and 281 A330-300).

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993
60 72 68 62 56 47 31 42 35 43 44 23 14 10 30 9 1

Accidents and incidents

As of June 2009, the Airbus A330 has been involved in 10 incidents, including two confirmed hull-loss accidents and three other losses, for a total of 235 fatalities.

Notable accidents and incidents
  • On 30 June 1994, an A330 owned by Airbus on a test flight simulating an engine failure on takeoff crashedmarker shortly after take-off from Toulousemarker, killing all seven on board.
  • On 15 March 2000, a 6-year-old Malaysia Airlines A330-300 aircraft was severely damaged by corrosive liquids that were being transported in the cargo hold on a passenger flight from Beijing to Kuala Lumpurmarker. The corrosive liquid oxalyl chloride was mistakenly declared as non-toxic solid hydroxyquinoline. 18 canisters of the substance were transported via Kuala Lumpur intended to transit to Chennaimarker. Five airport workers fell ill as they were unloading baggage from the aircraft at Kuala Lumpur after some of the canisters had leaked and chemicals spilled into the aircraft's cargo hold, resulting in extensive corrosion damage to the fuselage, wing box structure and landing gear. The aircraft was subsequently declared written-off. On 12 June 2007, a court in Beijing ordered China National Chemical Construction Corp, the owner of the cargo, to pay US$65 million to Malaysia Airlines for the loss.

  • On 25 May 2000, a man named Reginald Chua hijacked Philippine Airlines Flight 812, operated by an A330-300. After the aircraft was depressurized, the hijacker jumped out of the aircraft. Chua was killed, while all of the other passengers and crew survived.

  • On 24 July 2001, two Sri Lankan Airlines A330-243s were destroyed on ground by an LTTE attack at Colombomarker's Bandaranaike International Airportmarker, Sri Lankamarker, along with an Airbus A320-200, an Airbus A340-300 and a squadron of military aircraft. Another two planes, an A320 and an A340 were also damaged but have since been repaired.
  • On 24 August 2001, Air Transat Flight 236marker, an A330-200, performed the world's longest recorded glide with a jet airliner after suffering fuel exhaustion over the Atlantic Oceanmarker. The A330 flew powerless for 30 minutes and covered 65 nautical miles (120 km) to an emergency landing in the Azores (Portugalmarker). No one was injured, but the aircraft suffered some structural damage and blown tires.
  • On 18 July 2003, B-HYA, a Dragonair A330-342 encountered severe turbulence associated with Tropical Depression Koni over the South China Seamarker, during the flight KA060 from Kota Kinabalumarker to Hong Kongmarker. 12 crew members and 3 passengers were injured, of which 2 crew members sustained serious injuries, but there were no fatalities. The aircraft landed safely at Hong Kong International Airportmarker.
  • On 7 October 2008, VH-QPA, an A330-303 operating Qantas Flight 72, suffered a rapid loss of altitude in two sudden uncommanded pitch down manoeuvres, causing serious injuries while from Learmonthmarker, Australia. After declaring an emergency, the aircraft landed safely at Learmonth. A total of 106 people onbord the QANTAS Airbus A330-303 were injured, 14 seriously. A year after the incident QANTAS still do not know what caused the critical computer malfunction.

  • On 1 June 2009, Air France Flight 447marker, an Airbus A330-203 en route from Rio de Janeiromarker to Parismarker with 228 people onboard, was reported lost over the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft crashed in the Atlantic Ocean 400–500 miles northeast of the islands of Fernando de Noronhamarker. All 228 passengers and crew were killed. Malfunctioning pitot tubes have provided an early focus for the investigation.


Aircraft dimensions A330-200 A330-300 A330-200F
Overall length 58.8 m (192 ft 11 in) 63.6 m (208 ft 10 in) 58.8 m (192 ft 11 in)
Height (to top of horizontal tail) 17.80 m (58 ft 5 in)
or 17.30 m (56 ft 8 in)
16.85 m (55 ft 3 in) 16.9 m (55 ft 5 in)
Fuselage diameter 5.64 m (18 ft 6 in)
Maximum cabin width 5.28 m (17 ft 4 in)
Cabin length 45.0 m (147 ft 8 in) 50.35 m (165 ft 2 in) 40.8 m (133 ft 10 in)
Wingspan (geometric) 60.3 m (197 ft 10 in)
Wing area (reference) 361.6 m² (3,892 sq ft)
Wing sweep (25% chord) 30 º
Wheelbase 22.2 m (72 ft 10 in) 25.6 m (84 ft) 22.2 m (72 ft 10 in)
Wheel track 10.69 m (35 ft 1 in)
Basic operating data
Engines (×2) CF6-80E1 or PW4000 or RR Trent 700 PW4000 or RR Trent 700
Engine thrust range 303-320 kN
Typical passenger seating 253 (3-class)
293 (2-class)
295 (3-class)
335 (2-class)
Range (w/max. passengers) 6,749 NM
(12,500 km)
5,669 NM
(10,500 km)
4,000 NM
(7,400 km)
Cruising Speed Mach 0.82 (871 km/h, 541 mph, 470 knots at 35,000 ft (10.7 km) cruise altitude)
Maximum Cruise Speed Mach 0.86 (913 km/h, 568 mph, 493 knots at 35,000 ft (10.7 km) cruise altitude)
Takeoff run at MTOW 2,220 metres (7,300 ft) 2,500 metres (8,202 ft) -
Bulk hold volume (Standard/option) 19.7 / 13.76 m³ 475 m³
Design weights
Maximum ramp weight 230.9 (233.9) t
Maximum takeoff weight 230 (233) t
Maximum landing weight 180 (182) t 185 (187) t 182 (187) t
Maximum zero fuel weight 168 (170) t 173 (175) t 173 (178) t
Maximum fuel capacity 139,100 L 97,170 L 139,100 L
Typical operating weight empty 120 t 122 (124) t 109 t
Typical volumetric payload 36.4 t 45.9 t 69 t


Model Date Engines
A330-201 2003 GE CF6-80E1A2
A330-202 1998 GE CF6-80E1A4 / CF6-80E1A4B
A330-203 2002 GE CF6-80E1A3
A330-221 1999 PW4164
A330-222 1999 PW4168
A330-223 1999 PW4168A
A330-243 2000 RR Trent 772B-60
A330-244 2007 RR Trent 775-60
A330-301 1993 GE CF6-80E1A2
A330-302 2007 GE CF6-80E1A4 / CF6-80E1A4B
A330-303 2007 GE CF6-80E1A3
A330-321 1999 PW4164
A330-322 1999 PW4168
A330-323 1999 PW4168B
A330-341 2000 RR Trent 768-60
A330-342 2000 RR Trent 772-60
A330-343 2000 RR Trent 772B-60
A330-344 2007 RR Trent 775-60

See also


  1. Frawley, Gerald. "Airbus A330-200". "Airbus A330-300". The International Directory of Civil Aircraft, 2003/2004. Aerospace Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-875671-58-7.
  2. "To Save Fuel, Airlines Find No Speck Too Small". New York Times, 11 June 2008.
  3. 1,000 up for A330 Flight, 15/08/08
  5. " New payload/range capability for the A330-200
  6. Korean Air orders six more A330-200s
  7. " Airbus aims to fill freighter void with A330 derivative." Flight International. 14 March 2006.
  8. Kingsley-Jones, Max. "First Airbus A330-200F shows off nose-gear blister fairing". Flight International, 4 August 2009.
  9. " ACT Airlines commits for two A330 freighters." Airbus. 17 August 2006.
  10. " Air Force Awards Tanker Contract to Northrop Grumman." The Pentagon. 29 February 2008.
  11. " "KC-135 Stratotanker", Air Force Link, March 2008.
  12. Reuters: Air Force to seek new tanker bids: outgoing boss
  13. Airbus A330 incidents., 7 June 2009. Retrieved: 8 June 2009.
  14. Airbus A330 hull-losses., 7 June 2009. Retrieved: 8 June 2009.
  15. 30 June 1994 accident summary.
  16. "Chemical-damaged A330 is finally written off". Flight International, 27 March 2001.
  17. Ionides, Nicholas. "Chinese firm ordered to pay $65m over chemical-damaged MAS A330"., 6 December 2007.
  19. Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department B-HYA Accident Investigation report

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