This Revamped Jet Is Airbus' Latest Challenge To The Dreamliner

Airbus A330neoScreenshot/Airbus videoThe new Airbus A330neo is an updated version of the A330.

Coinciding with this week’s Farnborough Airshow in Britain, Airbus Group announced Monday that it would launch an updated version of its A330 passenger jet called the Airbus A330neo (new engine option). The plane is being hailed by Airbus as more efficient and reliable than earlier versions,reports CNET.

Monday’s announcement from Airbus included revamps of two medium-haul models, which are intended to compete with Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner. The 280-passenger Boeing 787-9 variant will also make an appearance at Farnborough this week.

The two new models are essentially old A330 planes with new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines that will increase the plane’s range by 400 nautical miles, as well as wings with aerodynamic “sharklet” winglets at the tips, adapted from Airbus’ A350 XWB. The 210-foot wingspan is 12 feet wider than the wingspan of the original A330.

Airbus A330neoScreenshot/Airbus videoThe plane features Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines that increase the plane’s range by 400 nautical miles.

Those upgrades will allow the A330neo to reduce fuel consumption by 14% per seat on a 4,600-mile trip compared with today’s A330, making its fuel economy equivalent to the 787, Airbus claims.

Thanks to a redesigned cabin, the A330-900neo will fit up to 310 seats, allowing for 10 more passengers than today’s A330, while the smaller-fuselage A330-800neo will seat six additional passengers for a total of 252 seats.

Airbus A330neoAirbusThe A330neo has a 12-foot wider wingspan and ‘sharklet’ wingtips.

Passengers in economy class will find 18-inch wide seats, compared to 16.9-inch-wide seats on the Boeing 787.The modernized interior will allow passengers to enjoy full-LED mood lighting, Wifi connectivity, and 3D films.

The company can offer the A330neo at “very very attractive pricing,” because it is cheaper to operate, said Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy. And thanks to lower maintenance costs and a higher passenger count, it will be competitive in price with the 787, Kiran Rao, Airbus executive vice president of strategy and marketing, said in a video on the company’s website.

Courtesy AirbusThe Airbus A330neo fits up to 310 seats, thanks to a redesigning of the lavatories and crew galley areas.

The A330neo is expected to replace Airbus’ 276-seat A350-800, the smallest of the three A350 XWB variants, which has suffered disappointingly modest sales with only 34 orders so far,reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

The reason for the A350-800’s underperformance may be the fact that its shrunken size is not as economical. It would cost the same amount to fly the A350-800 as the larger A350-900, although the latter variant can bring in greater revenue thanks to space for 39 more seats, according to Businessweek.

Courtesy AirbusAmenities include full-LED mood lighting, Wifi connectivity, and 3D films.

Airbus expects to deliver the A330-900neo by December 2017, followed by the A330-800neo in early 2018. The plane is “one of the most reliable and efficient commercial aircraft ever,” saidAirbus Group CEO Tom Enders in a statement, reported by CNET.

Boeing representatives didn’t seem too fazed in comments about the new Airbus launch. Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing’s commercial aeroplane division called Airbus’ claim of 14% better fuel efficiency “extraordinarily optimistic,” according to CNET.

Airbus A330neoScreenshot/Airbus videoAirbus expects to deliver the first A330neo planes by the end of 2017.

“It is an older technology aeroplane that is being improved,”Boeing co-CEO Jim McNerney told CNBC. “It will compete with brand new technology aeroplanes that we’ve got across a wide spectrum of widebodies.We feel highly confident in our new technology line that is already in place as it competes against a refurbished A330.”

Here are some statistics Airbus put together about the plane:

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