Airbus will raise the production rate for its A330 Family to ten aircraft a month from the second quarter of 2013, following unprecedented demand for Airbus’ best-selling long range aircraft family, the company has announced.
Currently Airbus turns out eight A330 series aircraft each month. This will increase to nine in early 2012, before reaching rate ten in the second quarter of 2013. In addition, Airbus is planning to increase A320 deliveries to 40 a month this year, up from 38 last year.
“We are increasing the production rate for the A330 family due to the strong market demand for the aircraft,” said Tom Williams, Airbus’ Executive Vice President – Programmes. “In the long-range, mid-size category, the A330 is the right aircraft for airlines worldwide”.
The A330 does not just serve as a passenger airliner but is also used as a VIP aircraft, a freighter and has been turned into a Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).
The A330 MRTT achieved civil and military certification in 2010. Currently five are flying with a further four undergoing conversion. Delivery of the first two aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is in the final stages. It is planned to deliver five A330 MRTTs to three customers in the course of this year. In addition to Australia, the A330 MRTT has been ordered by the air forces of the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Deliveries for the Royal Air Force are more than two years behind schedule due in part to delays in the development of the boom.
On January 19 an A300MRTT and a F-16 from the Portuguese Air Force were refuelling over the Atlantic Ocean when the boom broke off near the F-16’s receptacle. The boom then recoiled into the underside of the A300 MRTT. The boom then became uncontrollable and oscillated until it broke off the boom assembly at the pivot point. Although both aircraft were damaged, they managed to land safely. It is not yet clear what caused the incident.
2010 has also seen five deliveries of the brand new A330 freighter variant to three customers as a first step towards satisfying a market of some 400 new build mid-size freighters over the next 20 years.
The A330 is one of the most widely used widebody aircraft in service, with one taking off each minute every day, according to Airbus. To date, Airbus has received over 1100 orders for the different models of the aircraft. Some 750 A330s have already been delivered and the aircraft is currently flying with 90 operators worldwide in 50 countries.
Airbus’s plans for increasing production come on the back of a record year in terms of aircraft sales and deliveries. Airbus says commercial aircraft production increased to a record 510 units in 2010, up from 498 the previous year. This figure includes 401 A320 Family aircraft, 91 A330/A340s and 18 A380s. In contrast, Boeing delivered 462 aircraft last year. Aircraft production set a new company record for the ninth year in a row, Airbus said. As a result of increased demand, Airbus announced a price increase of 4.4% for its aircraft.
A total of 644 commercial aircraft were ordered last year 2010 (574 net), with a value of $84 billion ($74 billion net) at list/catalogue prices. This includes 452 A320 Family aircraft, 160 A330/A340/A350XWB and 32 A380s. Boeing, on the other hand, won 530 orders in 2010.
South African Airways (SAA) is one A330 operator and is set to receive the first of six leased A330-200s next week. SAA’s first A330 performed its maiden flight on January 17.
Although its aircraft are being leased from AirCastle, the aircraft were built to SAA’s specifications and feature a refreshed cabin interior and enhanced in-flight entertainment system.
The twin-engine wide-body aircraft will replace SAA’s six ageing A340-200s, which are leased from Airbus. However, the carrier will keep its six A340-300s and nine A340-600s.