The Airbus A330 is one of the most famous airliners to be made by Airbus. In chief, this is because of its popularity, as shown by the fact that variants on the Airbus A330 vary from medium-range to long-range as well as passenger transport to cargo transport. Currently, the Airbus A330 remains one of the most important products in Airbus’s line-up even though it was launched in 1992, meaning that its fate has a powerful connection with the fate of the European aircraft manufacturer as a whole. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Airbus A330:
1. Based on the Airbus A300
The Airbus A330 is based on the Airbus A300, which was the first airliner to have been produced by the European aircraft manufacturer. In short, Airbus intended the Airbus A300 to be one in a number of related aircraft, which is why the Airbus A330 started out as the Airbus A300B9. Said aircraft was supposed to be a lengthened version of its predecessor with more powerful turbofan engines.
2. Intended to Target Trunk Routes
In the mid 1970s, Airbus and other aircraft manufacturers picked up on the rising interest in transcontinental trunk routes with a high number of consumers on a regular basis. As a result, the A300 started out as something intended to satisfy that particular demand, which is something that it shares with other aircraft that were developed at around the same time.
3. Co-Developed with the Airbus A340
The Airbus A330 was developed at around the same time as the Airbus 340. Suffice to say that particular project started out as the Airbus B11, which was supposed to serve as a replacement for narrow-bodied airliners but instead winded up becoming a replacement for wide-bodied airliners. With that said, while both projects went through a fair amount of evolution, the two winded up being released in 1993 and 1994.
4. Considered Including Variable Camber Wing
At one point in time, Airbus considered including a variable camber in the wings of the Airbus A330. Like its name states, a variable camber would’ve meant being able to change the curvature of the wing while the aircraft is in flight, thus enhancing its maneuverability. However, Airbus eventually decided against the inclusion because the development of variable cambers would’ve costed too much for no more than a 2 percent in aerodynamic efficiency.
5. Airbus Partners Had to Invest in New Production Facilities
It is clear that Airbus and its partners had big expectations for the Airbus A330. For proof, look no further than the fact that Airbus’s partners invested the equivalent of millions and millions of dollars into new production facilities for the purpose of meeting the expected demand. Examples can be seen in England’s BAe, France’s Aerospatiale, and Germany’s MBB.
6. There Was a Fatal Crash in Test Flights
In June of 1994, there was a fatal crash of a test flight that killed the pilot as well as the five passengers who were on board at the time. The flight was supposed to test the autopilot in a worst case scenario. The eventual investigation determined that the crew made serious errors during their handling of the situation, which convinced Airbus to make changes to its operating procedures for the Airbus A330.
7. Air Inter Was First to Operate Airbus A330
For those who are curious, Air Inter was the first airline to operate the Airbus A330. In short, Air Line was a semi-public French airline, which existed for the purpose of providing people in France with affordable air travel within the country. Eventually, Air Inter became a subsidiary of Air France, operated for a number of years as such, before eventually being absorbed by Air France.
8. Responsible for a Significant Part of Airbus’s Cash Flow and Net Income
It is no exaggeration to say that the Airbus A330 is responsible for a significant part of the European aircraft manufacturer’s cash flow and net income, which are two of the most important figures for businesses that want to be able to continue operating for the foreseeable future. For proof, interested individuals can look at how Airbus’s stock share price fell when it announced a production cut in December of 2014.
9. The Airbus Beluga Is an Airbus A330 Variant
One of the better-known variants of the Airbus A330 is the Airbus Beluga, which was nicknamed thus because of its physical appearance before the nickname became official. The Airbus Beluga is an aircraft intended for the transportation of outsize cargo, which means aircraft parts as well as other goods of much bigger-than-normal size.
10. Will Be Replaced By the Airbus A330neo
The current Airbus A330 is sometimes called the Airbus A330ceo, which serves to distinguish it from the Airbus A330neo. The ceo stands for Current Engine Option, whereas the neo stands for New Engine Option. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Airbus A330ceo is a variant with better engines that is intended to replace its predecessor.