Airbus's latest passenger jet has successfully taken its first test flight, as the manufacturer seeks to improve aircraft fuel efficiency.
On Thursday morning the A330-900neo aircraft took to the skies over Toulouse, France in the first ever test of this new aircraft.
Taking off at 9:57 am, the aircraft flew for 4 hours and 13 minutes over France before returning to land in Toulouse.
“Today’s first flight of the A330neo marks yet another milestone along the Airbus journey of continuous innovation,” said Airbus COO Fabrice Brégier.
“My congratulations and thanks go to all the teams who have contributed to make today’s flight happen, and to our customers for choosing this very efficient and capable aircraft to give them market advantage.”
By all accounts, the flight test was successful and will be the first of many flight tests before the aircraft can be certified as safe to fly by regulators.
All up Airbus has built 3 test A330-900neo aircraft to complete these tests, which will require a total of 1,100 hours of airtime before this certification is given.
This flight test regime is expected to be completed by mid next year if all goes to plan.
Once this test regime has been completed, the aircraft will enter mass production, with the first production aircraft being delivered to TAP Air Portugal in mid-2018.
The A330neo series of aircraft, with the ‘neo’ standing for New Engine Option, is designed to be significantly more fuel efficient than current A330 aircraft.
Using new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, the A330neo series is expected to boast 14% better fuel economy per seat.
Further efficiencies are promised based on the use of an improved airframe and new wingtip devices known as ‘sharklets’.
Once it enters operation the Airbus A330-900neo will be able to travel cover 6550nm (12,130 km) with the capacity to carry up to 287 passengers.
Airbus hopes that the new aircraft will be able to out-compete similar wide-body aircraft built by competitor Boeing, able to deliver comparable fuel efficiencies at a lower capital cost.
Demonstrating the demand for these aircraft, Airbus says it has so far received orders for a total of 212 A330neo aircraft from 12 different customers.
Airbus will be presenting at the Solutions Theatre as part of The Manufacturer’s Smart Factory Expo, held 15-16 November this year.