Engines for A330 freighter will propel or stall its prospects

Decisions made by Airbus in the late 1980s are guiding the future second act for the A330 as a converted package-hauler.

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Release Date
April 8, 2021
Engines for A330 freighter will propel or stall its prospects
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  • Continuing the exploration of the A330, the aging aircraft’s engines can greatly affect its long-term residual value and overall economics for owners weighing freighter conversions.
  • Large express operators such as FedEx Express, UPS, and DHL would benefit most from the converted freighter, however unique container requirements limit its competitiveness over Boeing’s 767-300.
  • Conversion capacity remains a key bottleneck, largely limiting the near-term uptake of the A330P2F.

Selecting engines for an aircraft program largely sets in stone the dynamics that will follow an aircraft throughout its multi-decade life. Plane makers are looking to find the appropriate balance between fuel burn, time on wing, overhaul costs, and available thrust, but it stands to reason that aircraft owners would prefer increased engine options.

Yet, when do those options become obstacles? Having multiple options also segments the aircraft market, limiting the available second-hand market into which the aircraft could ultimately be sold.

Part One: The Airbus A330 is lost in the pandemic’s economic Twilight Zone

Airbus chose three engine options for the classic A330 aircraft, the Rolls-Royce Trent 700, Pratt & Whitney PW4000, and General Electric CF6. Each of these options brings similar advantages in operation, however, it is the aftermarket value where the three engines begin to show significant differences. For the A330, with a large portion of a relatively young fleet parked, the aircraft has been forced to deal with the possibility of entering its second life well ahead of schedule.

Part Two: Airbus’s A330 path to cargo conversion success faces an uphill battle

Through the in-depth examination of the A330 market, TAC Analysis has explored the aircraft’s unique age profile, its role in the depressed passenger market, and the challenges of transitioning it into the converted cargo market. This week, we dive further into the potential freighter market for the aircraft, and into how the separation between owners and operators could drive a unique second act for the A330.

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