Airbus has commenced test flights with the first A330-900 with the higher maximum take-off weight of 251t.
The manufacturer has confirmed that aircraft MSN1967 – bearing the test registration F-WWCE – lifted off from Toulouse at 12:27 local time on 28 February
Airbus has been aiming to deliver the higher-weight version of the A330neo, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, for mid-2020.
The 251t version of the -900 variant will have a projected range of 7,200nm.
Airbus lists two weight variants, the WV920 and WV921, at this maximum take off weight (MTOW) with maximum landing weights of 191t.
It also lists a 247t MTOW variant, designated WV922.
Airbus’s current version of the A330-900 has an MTOW range of 230t up to the maximum of 242t, but it was confirmed in 2017 that it intended to develop a 251t variant – a modification which will also cover the A330-800.
The aircraft carrying out the maiden flight is said to be destined to be delivered to AirAsia X.
However, within the past few days AirAsia X has said that it will defer delivery of 78 Airbus A330neo aircraft as it makes changes to its fleet to reduce costs. It has said that the ongoing impact of coronavirus is forcing the airline to reconsider its plans as it continues to operate at a loss.
In other fleet changes, the airline confirmed it was considering selling two Airbus A330-300s as well as returning a further five aircraft to lessors early. The sales would generate up to $100 million while new agreements with lessors could cut the airline’s lease rates by 30%.
It also said it is working on some other short-term wet-lease arrangements.