Airbus pins freighter hopes on new A330-200F

Airbus takes aim at an untapped market niche with its new mid-sized, long-range freighter as it promotes replacements, frequency improvements and new route development with what it argues is a lower risk aircraft.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Airbus hasn’t attached much priority to the development of its freighter product offering. The decadeslong dominance of the DC10, MD11 and B747 have formed the highly visible backbone of the air cargo industry.

And aside from the now discontinued A300-600 freighter newbuild programme, most of Airbus’ freighter offerings were via the conversion route. But this will all soon be history once Airbus’ new A330-200F rolls off the production linein Toulouse, France later this year.

Eyeing what it says is an important unfulfilled spot in the freighter market, Airbus has pinned its hopes on its new mid-sized, long range freighter. With up to a 69 tonne payload and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 233 tonnes, the A330F is aimed at serving networks similar to that operated currently by B747s.

At nearly the same range but with nearly a 40 per cent smaller payload the freighter is ideal for the changing air cargo landscape, the airframe maker argues. It is simply going to be a game changing aircraft suggest Airbus executives.

Based on the popular A330 passenger aircraft, the freighter variant underwent the typical design alterations for its new role, such as structural reinforcement and redesigned front landing gear bay to reduce nose down attitude to facilitate cargo loading/unloading.