Airbus A330

1992 twinjet airliner family by Airbus

The Airbus A330 is a two engine, wide-body passenger airplane made by Airbus. It was designed at the same time as the Airbus A340, so it has the same body and wings.

Airbus A330
Airbus A330-300
Role Wide-Body Jet airliner
National origin Multi-country origin
Manufacturer Airbus
First flight 2 November 1991
Introduction 17 January 1994 with Air Inter
Status Being produced and used by airlines
Primary users Turkish Airlines
Cathay Pacific
Delta Air Lines
China Eastern Airlines
Produced 1986-present
Number built 1016 as of 10 October 2013
Unit cost
A330-200: US$216.1 million(€160 million) (2013)
A330-300: US$239.4 million(€177 million) (2013)
A330-200F: US$219.1 million(€162 million) (2013)
Developed from Airbus A300
Variants Airbus A340
A bmi A330 lands at an airport.

It first flew in 1991 and the first one was delivered to Air Inter in 1994. It was a 300 series. Just after this, Airbus made the shorter 200 series. Airbus has made a freighter version, first made in 2001, and a tanker version, first made in 2007 (which carries additional fuel so it can give some to other planes).

Design and building

an Airbus A330 flying with Air Algérie (note, there is no page on air algérie yet, could someone make that?)

Airlines wanted a new airplane to replace their McDonnell Douglas DC-10 airplanes which were getting old. So, Airbus started a new project in November 1987: the A330 and A340 programs. In the end, it was found that the A330 is almost 38% more fuel efficient than the DC-10.[1]

Airbus designed the A330 to be in the market for ETOPS airplanes. This market already had planes like the Boeing 767. In November 2009, the A330 was the first airplane to get the ETOPS-240 approval, which means that the plane is allowed to fly up to 240 minutes away from any airport.[2] This means it can fly over large oceans or places like the Antarctic where there are no airports nearby.

The A330's body and wings are nearly exactly the same as the smaller versions of the A340's wings and body, but they have different engines. The A330's body is also similar to the older Airbus A300, and the computers and systems (like the fly-by-wire system) are similar to the Airbus A320 family of airplanes. Also, both the A330 and A340 are built at the same place: Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in Toulouse in France.

The 1000th A330 was ordered at the 2008 Farnborough Air Show by Cathay Pacific.

Airbus thinks that it will keep building the A330 until at least 2015.[3]

Types of A330


There are two main types of Airbus A330: the 200 series and the 300 series. There is also the freighter version, which carries cargo instead of people, and the tanker version which carries lots of fuel (usually to give to other planes).


A Middle East Airlines A330-200 lands at London Heathrow Airport.

The A330-200 was made to compete with Boeing's 767-300ER. It is a shorter version of the A330-300 and is like the A340-200.

In the 1990s, Airbus was not selling very many A340-200s (only 28 were built). So, Airbus used the body of the A340-200 and took the wings and engines of the A330-300. This made the plane much more efficient and the A330-200 was much more popular than the A340-200.

The tail fin (called the rudder) of the A330-200 is a little bit taller than the 300 version to produce the same torque as the A330-300.

It has the same MTOW (Maximum Take-Off Weight) as the A330-300, so it can take more fuel than the A330-300. This means the A330-200 can fly further than the A330-300. It has a range of 12,500 km which is the same as 6,750 nmi.

The A330 has three engine choices for airlines to choose from: two General Electric CF6-80E engines, two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines or two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines.



In May 2009, Airbus said they have plans to make a version of the A330-200 that can take off with a higher weight. This is because they want to compete with Boeing and their 787-8 aircraft.

It will have a new MTOW of 238 tons and a new range of 13,300 km which is 7,200 nmi. Airbus thinks that the 787-8 will have a range of 6,720 nmi (12,450 km) which is about 1000 nmi (1,900 km) less than what Boeing said it would be.[4]

Korean Air will be the first airline to have the A330-200HGW. It ordered the airplanes on 27 February 2009 and will get the first one in 2010.[5]



Because the Airbus A300-600F and Airbus A310F were getting old and companies had stopped ordering them, Airbus decided to make a new freighter plane to replace them. It started offering the airplane around the years 2000–2001. The airplane was talked about again at the 2006 Farnborough Airshow. Airbus got permission to sell the plane in January 2007 and the first plane came out of the factory on 20 October 2009. The aircraft first flew on 5 November 2009.

It can fly 64 tonnes of cargo over 4,000 nmi (7,400 km) or 69 tonnes over 3,200 nmi (5,930 km). The airplane was designed to use a new loading system that can use two different ways of holding cargo: containers or pallets (either smaller side by side pallets or larger single row pallets).

It has a new front landing gear system. Normally the A330-200 points slightly downwards when it is on the ground. This is good because the pilots can see the ground better but it makes loading the cargo harder. With this new gear, the aircraft sits straight so it is easier to load the cargo. It works by making the point where the plane attaches to the gear lower. This means that the nose has a bubble on the bottom to make sure the gear fits properly.[6]

Airbus has 67 orders for the A330-200F. The customer who ordered the most planes is Intrepid Aviation Group who have ordered 20.


A Royal Australian Air Force A330 MRTT takes off.

This version is a tanker aircraft, which means that it carries a lot of jet fuel to give to other planes. It also has a few seats so that it can be used to carry passengers. It is used by the military.

The plane has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the UK's Royal Air Force (RAF), the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The plane was also offered to the U.S. Air Force as a replacement for some of their Boeing KC-135 'Stratotankers'. Eventually in 2002, they chose Boeing's offering: the KC-767. But this order was cancelled after a lot of political controversy. In 2006, the Air Force started again. Boeing again offered the KC-767 and Airbus teamed up with Northrop Grumman to make the KC-30. This time, they chose the KC-30 and renamed it the KC-45A. But Boeing complained that the ruling was not fair and the US Government Accountability Office agreed with Boeing. The bid was cancelled again. Northrop Grumman has decided not to offer the KC-45A again.[7]


Airbus A330-323X US Airways N270AY, LHR London, England (Heathrow Airport), United Kingdom

The A330-300 started working in 1986. It was the first type of A330. It competes with Boeing's 777-200 and 767-400ER. It was made as a replacement for the Airbus A300. It has a similar body to the A300-600, but it has new wings and systems.

It carries 295 passengers in three classes or 335 in two classes or 440 in one class. It can fly up to 5,650 nmi (10,500 km).

It has either two General Electric CF6-80E engines, two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines or two Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines. All the engines are ETOPS rated at ETOPS-180 which means that the A330-300 can fly up to 180 minutes away from an airport that it can land at.



The Airbus A330neo(new engine option) is a variant of the A330 that has 14% better fuel economy per seat.

Orders and deliveries


80 airlines or companies currently use the A330. The ones with the most A330s are Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong who have 32, Delta Air Lines from the United States of America who have 32, Emirates Airline from the United Arab Emirates who have 29, Qatar Airways from Qatar who have 29 and Air China and China Eastern Airlines who are both in China and have 20 each.[8]

Crashes and problems


The A330 has had ten accidents: two hull-loss accidents (crashes where the plane cannot be fixed and cannot be used any more). There has been a total of 235 fatalities in the accidents.

  • On 30 June 1994, an A330 which was owned by Airbus crashed just after it took off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport. It was testing an engine failure on take-off.
  • On 15 March 2000, an A330-300 which was owned by Malaysia Airlines was damaged by a corrosive liquid that was being taken as cargo on a passenger flight from Beijing in China to Kuala Lumpur. The liquid was accidentally labelled as a non-toxic solid. The liquid made five workers at the airport in Kuala Lumpur very ill because they took the liquid off the airplane. The company that owned the liquid (China National Chemical Construction Corp) was made to pay US$65 million to Malaysia Airlines because of the incident.[9]
  • On 25 May 2000, a A330-300 owned by Philippine Airlines as flight 812 was hijacked by a man called Reginald Chua. The pressure of the air on the aircraft was let out so Chua could open the door. He then jumped out of the plane. Chua was killed by the fall but all the crew and passengers survived. The plane was also fine.[10]
  • On 24 July 2001, two A330-200s which were both owned by Sri Lankan Airlines were destroyed at Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka by an attack by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (also known as LTTE or the Tamil Tigers).[11] They wanted a new, independent state for the Tamil people. They did not get what they wanted. They also destroyed an Airbus A320, an Airbus A340 and some military aircraft. They damaged an Airbus A320 and an Airbus A340, but these planes were fixed.
  • On 24 August 2001, an A330-200 owned by Air Transat as flight 236 flew across the Atlantic Ocean. The plane had a fuel leak in the right wing and all the fuel fell out of the aircraft. Without fuel, the engines stopped working and so they lost most of the power for the plane. A small air turbine came out of the bottom of the plane. It spun in the wind and made a bit of electricity for the plane. By using this, the pilots were able to fly the plane for another 19 minutes to Lajes Air Base in the Azores. The plane landed with no fatalities, but two passengers received serious injuries.
  • On 18 July 2003, an A330-300 owned by Dragonair came across very heavy turbulence caused by Tropical Depression Koni over the South China Sea. Ten crew members and two passengers received minor injuries, two crew members got more serious injuries, with no fatalities recorded. The airplane landed safely at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong.[12]
  • On 7 October 2008, an A330-300 owned by Qantas and running as flight 72 encountered a computer error. The error made the airplane's nose point down suddenly twice. This caused 92 people to have small injuries and 14 people to have more serious injuries. The pilots landed at Learmonth in Australia. [13]
  • On 1 June 2009, an A330-200 owned by Air France and running as flight 447 was flying from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to Paris in France over the Atlantic Ocean. Air traffic control did not hear from the aircraft for a long time and started to get worried. Soon after, a search party was launched but it took nearly six days to find the plane.[14] The plane was destroyed and everyone on the plane was killed. The crash was caused by the co-pilot unintentionally placing the plane into a nose up stall during night flying conditions. It is believed the co-pilot became disorientated and no longer trusted his ADI (Artificial Horizon) Investigators blamed Air France for improperly training their pilots how to properly identify and deal with a stall.
  • On 25 December 2009, an A330-300 owned by Northwest Airlines (now Delta Air Lines) running as Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was almost blown up with a bomb when it was flying from Amsterdam in The Netherlands to Detroit in Michigan in the United States of America. The terrorist was named Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab. The bomb he had on him did not explode properly. He was stopped by the passengers and the crew on the airplane.[15]


Airbus A330 specifications[16] unless noted
A330-200 A330-200F A330-300
Cockpit crew Two
Capacity 246 (36J @ 60 in + 210Y @ 32 in) 70,000 kg (154,324 lb) 300 (36J @ 60 in + 264Y @ 32 in)
Max seating[17] 406 440
Length 58.82 m (192.98 ft) 63.67 m (208.89 ft)
Span Wing: 60.3 m (197.83 ft), Main gear: 12.61 m (41.37 ft)
Wing 361.6 m2 (3,892 sq ft), 25% chord wingsweep: 30°,[18] 10.06 Aspect ratio
Height[17] 17.39 m / 57 ft 16.90 m / 55 ft 5 in 16.79 m / 55 ft
Fuselage 5.64 m (222 in) diameter, 5.26 m (207 in) cabin width
Seat width 0.46 m (18 in) in 8 abreast economy, 0.53 m (21 in) in 6 abreast business
Cargo volume 132.4 m³ (4673 cu ft) 469.2 m³ (16567 cu ft) 158.4 m³ (5591 cu ft)
MTOW 242,000 kg (533,519 lb) 233,000 kg (513,677 lb) 242,000 kg (533,519 lb)
OEW 120,600 kg (265,900 lb) 109,400 kg (241,200 lb) 129,400 kg (285,300 lb)
Max Payload 49,400 kg (108,900 lb) 68,600 kg (151,200 lb) 45,600 kg (100,500 lb)
Fuel capacity 139,090 L (36,744 US gal) – 109,185 kg (240,712 lb)
Engines (×2)[19] GE CF6 (except -200F) / PW4000 / Trent 700
Thrust (×2)[19] 64,500–71,100 lbf (287–316 kN)
Cruise Mach 0.82 (470 kn; 871 km/h),[a] 12,500 m (41,100 ft) Service ceiling[20]
Range[17] 13,450 km / 7,250 nmi[b] 7,400 km / 4,000 nmi 11,750 km / 6,350 nmi[c]
Runway[d] Takeoff: 2,770 m (9,090 ft), Landing: 1,730 m (5,680 ft)[21]
  1. Mach 0.86 (493 kn; 914 km/h) MMO
  2. 247 passengers
  3. 277 passengers


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  12. Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department B-HYA Accident Investigation report
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  14. "Bodies from missing plane found". BBC News. 2009-06-06. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  15. "Nigerian Charged in Northwest Bomb Attempt". Wall Street Journal. 2009-12-27. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
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