Take a closer look at the $300 million Airbus A330neo — Europe's answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider
  • The Airbus A330neo is Europe’s rival for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
  • The plane is based on the current generation Airbus A330 wide-body airliner.
  • The A330neo has struggled to find customers of late as Airbus has taken just 224 orders since it went on sale in 2014.
  • The Airbus sales campaign continues at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.
  • The A330-800neo is priced at $US259.9 million while the larger A330-900neo costs $US296.4 million.

FARNBOROUGH -The Boeing 787 Dreamliner entered service to great fanfare back in 2011. Despite being hampered early in its production life by a series of serious reliability issues, the Dreamliner has since proven itself to be a hot-selling and highly efficient airliner.

In fact, it has come to dominate the small wide-boy market of late. Naturally, Airbus had to answer its rival.

Instead of designing a brand new aircraft from the ground up, Airbus decided to use its current generation A330 as the starting point.

At the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow, Airbus launched the A330neo. Like in the A320neo, “neo” stands for new engine option.

However, the A330neo is more than an old plane with a new engine.

To create the neo, Airbus thoroughly updated the A330 airframe, gave it a pair of brand new wings, and state-of-the-art avionics. And yes, there is a pair of fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines.

Airbus is offering the neo in two sizes – the A330-800 and the larger A330-900.

Thus far, Airbus has struggled to find customers of the A330neo. Through may, the European planemaker has just 224 orders for the plane which has been on sale since 2014. In that same period, Boeing racked up more than 400 orders for Dreamliners.

The plane’s largest customer is Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia X with 66 on order. The A330neo’s only US airline customer is Delta with 25 orders on the books. All 224 orders are for the Dash 900.

In March, Hawaiian Airlines canceled the last remaining order for the A330-800. In its place, the Honolulu-based carrier ordered 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

In spite of the setbacks, Airbus is pushing forward with its A330neo sales campaign.

The Toulouse, France-based company decided to show off of its A330-900neo prototype at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow in the livery of the plane’s launch customer, TAP Air Portugal.

We were able to take a brief tour of the new Airbus jet on the tarmac in Farnborough.

Here’s a closer look at the Airbus A330-900neo.


Parked on the Farnborough tarmac, in the sea of shiny new jets, is the new Airbus A330neo.

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The plane on display is the A330-900 prototype. It’s the larger and much more popular of the A330neo planes. The jet is kitted out in the paint scheme of launch customer TAP Air Portugal.

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Let’s have a closer look. Walking up the airstairs into the to the cabin, you can’t help but notice the A330neo’s massive Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines.

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The Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 along drag-reducing Sharklet wing-tips help give the A330-900neo a range of 8,300 miles, that’s nearly 1,000 miles more than the current generation A330-300. The smaller A330-800 can fly more than 8,600 miles.

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Inside, you are greeted by a spacious mood-light-drenched cabin.

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This aircraft is fitted with a new version of TAP Air Portugal’s flatbed business class seat.

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Walking past the business class cabin, we approach the economy cabin.

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Check out the slim line seats.

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Each seat boast seat back entertainment screens.

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“Welcome On Board!”

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Like the current generation A330, the neo keeps the eight-abreast seating configuration. The Boeing 787 usually flies with nine seats per row.

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The A330-900 is usually configured with room for 287 passengers but can carry as many as 440. The smaller A330-800 is expected to fly with 257 passengers but can carry up to 406.

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Here’s a look at the galley.

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And here’s the mood-lit lavatory.

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Up front is a modern glass cockpit.

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Here’s a look at the Captain’s seat.

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The A330-800neo is priced at $US259.9 million while the larger A330-900neo costs $US296.4 million. However, it is customary in the industry for airlines and leasing companies to receive significant discounts. Both planes are expected to enter service next year.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

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