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Tuesday was Delta’s “A350 Day” in Atlanta, but Thursday is “A330neo Day” in Toulouse, France. The newest Airbus aircraft took to the skies for the first time ever Thursday afternoon.

The newest version of the Airbus A330 was first announced in 2014 and is intended to give the A330 program new legs to continue into the 21st century. While “neo” stands for “new engine option,” the modifications don’t stop with newer, more efficient and quieter Rolls-Royce Trent engines. The updated aircraft will have lighter, wider and more efficient wings as well as an updated cabin interior — which we got to see for the first time in April 2016:

Airbus A330neo Airspace

Today’s A330neo maiden voyage lasted 4 hours, 15 minutes and marks the first of many flights as part of its certification process, consisting of approximately 1,400 flight-test hours needed to certify the new types. Airbus got some great shots of its newest bird, showcasing the new blended winglets at the tip of the wings:

Photo by S. Ramadier via Airbus.
Photo by S. Ramadier via Airbus.

This aircraft (designated MSN1795, or the 1795th A330 / A340 off the assembly line) is one of three that will be used exclusively for testing. Two of the A330-900s will be manufactured and tested across 1,100 hours with an additional 300 hours on the smaller A330-800. The two jets are available only with Rolls Royce engines, as opposed to the current A330s, the 200 and 300 models, which both offer a choice of General Electric, Pratt & Whitney or Rolls.

The aircraft manufacturer hopes to complete the A330-900 certification process by mid-2018. Launch customer TAP Portugal expects to receive the first of its 14 A330neos around this time. To date, Airbus has received 206 orders from 10 airlines for the A330-900 — including 25 from Delta to replace its aging Boeing 767s.

Testing of the smaller A330-800 isn’t expected to be completed until 2019. So far, Airbus has received only one order for this type: 6 from Hawaiian Airlines. This is the aircraft Hawaiian is looking forward to using to launch direct flights between Europe and Hawaii.

Are you looking forward to getting a chance to ride on Airbus’ newest aircraft?

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