Airbus has begun the final stage of aircraft certification for its A330-900neo aircraft, ahead of the first delivery to launch customer TAP Air Portugal later this year.
The route proving tests, which include Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards (ETOPS), diverted airport landings and handling tests, are taking the aircraft to 15 cities across the globe, from Atlanta, Chicago and Miami in the US, to Jakarta, Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Bangkok.
The plane will complete a total of 150 hours of test flights, before returning to the Airbus factory in Toulouse.
The test aircraft is painted in TAP Air Portugal colours, including the wording “A330neo first to fly” on the fuselage, and is fully kitted out with the Airspace by Airbus cabins for which TAP is also the launch customer.
The Portuguese flag carrier has purchased a total of ten of the aircraft, with a further ten set to be operated on a lease basis.
Airbus says that operators of the A330neo “will benefit from the 25 percent less fuel burn per seat compared to previous-generation competitors, along with reduced maintenance costs and the A330’s market-leading 99.5 percent operational reliability”.