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Summary

  • A330neo to replace A350-800.
  • A330neo might appeal to low cost carriers.
  • A330neo to compete with the Boeing 787.
  • Increased demand for air transport will result in growing order numbers for the A330neo.
  • Commonality with the A330ceo will attract customers for the neo.

Airbus (OTCPK:EADSF) launched the Airbus A330neo during the Farnborough Airshow 2014. The Airbus A330neo (new engine option) should replace the older A330 aircraft (classic engine option), but also replace the Airbus A350-800 and compete with Boeing's (NYSE:BA) 787.

(click to enlarge)

Figure 1: Render of the Airbus A330neo (Source: airbus.com)

To see how good the A330neo is, it is meaningful to look how well it performs relative to its predecessor, the Airbus A330ceo. Not all performance numbers for the A330neo are known yet, but it already is possible to draw some conclusions.

One of the first things to note about the Airbus A330neo is that it is an airframe that has been brought to today's standards by fitting the airframe with new engines and wings.

A330-200ceo

A330-800neo

Difference

Passengers [2 class (typical)]

246

252

2,4%

Range [km]

12700

13800

8,7%

Fuel [L]

139090

139090

0,0%

Fuel/passenger/100 km [L/100 km]

4,45

4,00

-10,2%

MTOW [tonnes]

238

242

1,7%

Comparing the general specifications of the A33-200ceo it can be seen that the numbers are comparable. The only big difference is the range, the neo will carry 6 more passengers to a destination 1100 km further away. This results in fuel/seat/km number that is 10.2% lower.

A330-300ceo

A330-900neo

Difference

Passengers [2 class (typical)]

300

310

3,3%

Range [km]

10400

11500

10,6%

Fuel [L]

97530

139090

42,6%

Fuel/passenger/100 km [L/100 km]

3,13

3,90

24,8%

MTOW [tonnes]

235

242

3,0%

For the Airbus A330-900neo the numbers differ a bit compared to the A330-300. The Airbus A330-900neo is able to carry up to 10 passengers more to a destination circa 1100 km further away. It seems though that the fuel per seat/ 100 km number is far worse than on the A330ceo, but this is caused by the A330-900neo being able to carry more fuel while only payload and range increase slightly. Additionally one has to note that a lot of airlines will use the A330 for shorter missions, thereby requiring less fuel on board.

Airbus claims that the Airbus A330-900neo will have 14% lower fuel burn per seat than the Airbus A330-300 (235 tonnes) for a 4000 nm trip. The current A330s have mission lengths of 2000 nm on average, meaning that the advantage the neo has over the ceo vanishes for shorter flights, but certainly is present on the longer flights. This might appeal to airlines that already operate the Airbus A330-300 on longer flights. Additionally dense configurations will increase the profitability as well, making the A330neo an excellent candidate for low cost carriers that offer long haul flights.

After looking at the basic numbers, there is still no sign of how Airbus reduced its fuel per seat costs. This is because the biggest benefits the A330neo has can be found on the engines and the wings. More fuel efficient engines and better aerodynamics decrease the fuel costs per seat.

Airbus claims the following numbers for the Airbus A330-900neo:

(click to enlarge)

Figure 2: Fuel efficiency improvement of the neo versus the A330-300 (Source: airbus.com)

Propulsion System (-10%)

One of the biggest improvement on the neo is the new engine option. The Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines have been replaced by the Rolls Royce Trent 7000. The Trent 7000 makes use of the technologies of the Trent 1000 (used on the Boeing 787). Airbus claims that the Trent 7000 reduces the fuel burn per trip by 11%.

Trent 700

Trent 7000

Difference

Thrust [kN]

316

320

1,27%

SFC [lb/hr/lb]

0,565

0,508

-10,00%

Fan diameter [inches]

97,4

112

14,99%

Bypass ratio (BPR) [-]

5

10

100,00%

Overall pressure ratio [-]

35,5

50

40,85%

Engine mass [kg]

4785

5765

20,48%

The bypass ratio is twice as high for the Trent 7000 resulting in lower noise levels and lower specific fuel consumption.

Additionally the overall pressure ratio is higher, this allows for a higher nozzle area ratio, which leads to more of the heat energy being converted into jet speed.

The higher BPR and pressure ratio lead to a significantly lower SFC. Looking at the specific fuel consumption (SFC), it is not quite clear where the 11% comes from, since the reduction in SFC is only 10%

Wing adjustments (-4%)

According to Airbus another 4% is gained by increasing the aspect ratio of the wing and using the sharklets used on the A350.

Penalties (+3%)

Some of the design decisions also result in a penalty on the efficiency. The increase in fan diameter results in a 1% penalty due to drag, while the increase in weight results in a 2%, bringing the total penalty to 3%.

Summing up efficiencies

Airbus calculated a gain in fuel efficiency per trip of 12%, 11% from the power plant, 3% drag and weight penalty and 4% for the aerodynamic tweaks. Adding 6 seats to that, Airbus calculates a fuel burn per seat that is 14% lower.

Since it is not clear where the 1% on the power plant efficiency comes from, the fuel efficiency per trip that can be calculated is 11%, resulting in a fuel burn per seat that is 13% lower.

One has to note that Airbus is comparing the 235 tonnes A330-300 with the 242 tonnes A330-900neo to come up with the 14% gain in fuel efficiency per seat. Comparing the 242 tonnes A330-300 (that will enter service in 2015) might yield lower advantages for the neo compared to the ceo.

This might be a marketing trick from Airbus, but also indicates that Airbus is actively trying to convince current Airbus A330-300 operators to order the A330neo instead of ordering the tweaked A330-300.

With strong demand for the Airbus A330 in the past, increasing passenger numbers and airlines looking to cut (NASDAQ:FUEL) cost, Airbus offered a good alternative for the Airbus A330 while maintaining commonality (with the current A330ceo) and porting some rather complex features such as the wing box design from the ceo to neo (thereby reducing development time and costs).

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Source: EADSF: What Is New On The Airbus A330neo?