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Earlier, we had reported on how and why the Airbus A330neo is such an intriguing aircraft in Airbus’ lineup of sophisticated airplanes. In a latest report from the FAA and EASA, the US and European regulators have certified the smallest of the Airbus A330neo model, the A330-800 to carry passengers and thereby, start operations with airlines commercially.

The A330-800 test flight. Image Credits: Airliners.net

Certification of the A330-800 by the by the respective regulators comes after the aircraft (registered MSN1888) successfully completed 132 test flights, with a total of 370 flight hours, since November 2018, when it took off for the first time. Airbus has not yet revealed the launch customer of A330-800, or the delivery date of the aircraft. However, with orders from only Uganda Airlines and Kuwait Airways in addition to one undisclosed customer, the potential list is quite short.

With a capacity of 250 passengers, range of 13,900km, and take-off weight of 242 tonnes, the A330-800, powered by two Rolls Royce Trent 7000 engines, is perfectly positioned to fill the spot in the industry that was previously dominated by the Boeing 767s and A330-200s. It is safe to say thereby, that the orders for the A330-800 shall pick up significantly after a couple of years, once carriers start phasing out the 767s and A330-200s. Accordingly, Garuda Indonesia has signed a letter of intent to take four A330-800s, Air Greenland has also recently disclosed plans to acquire a single aircraft.

However, production of the A330-800 beyond the prototype was previously in doubt, after the initial launch customer, Hawaiian Airways, was choosing between the A350-900 and the 787-9 instead. Finally, in March 2018, Hawaiian confirmed the cancellation of its order for six A330-800s and ordered ten 787-9s. However, in July 2018, a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) from Uganda National Airlines Company for a couple -800 variants revived interest in the aircraft. Additionally, eight firm orders by Kuwait Airways in October 2018 strengthened the -800’s order-book.

With more airlines excepted to turn to the -800 after phasing their A330-200s and 767s, future for the variant definitely looks bright. The A330-900 has 323 orders as of date, with a mere 14 orders for the -800. However, it is easy to see that with the A321neo, the A321XLR, the A330-800 and -900, Airbus has indeed created a strategic lineup that would appeal to a gargantuan audience! What so you think of the the A330neo’s smaller variant? Will it create niche position in the market? Let us know in the comments!

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