Airbus’ A330neo takes flight with nacelle systems from Safran Nacelles

October 19, 2017

An Airbus A330-neo takes off
Marking the beginning of 1,000-plus hours of flight testing, an Airbus A330neo takes to the skies for the first time.

Today's maiden flight of the Airbus A330neo (New Engine Option) jetliner marks an important milestone for Safan Nacelles – underscoring the company's role as a supplier of choice for complete nacelle systems, as well as reinforcing its position in the market category of high-thrust, long-haul jetliners.

The no. 1 A330neo performed its first takeoff from Airbus' headquarters operation at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in southwestern France, and returned to the facility after four hours aloft. Safran Nacelles has a major nacelle/engine integration facility located at Colomiers, which is adjacent to Airbus' Clément Ader A330 final assembly line at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

As a direct supplier to Airbus, Safran Nacelles has complete responsibility for the A330neo nacelles – from design and manufacture to their integration on the twin-engine aircraft's Rolls-Royce's Trent 7000 powerplants. Safran Nacelles also will offer support and service once the A330neo is in airline operation.

A 42-month development to meet Airbus' A330neo program scheduling

To meet Airbus scheduling for the A330neo program, Safran Nacelles developed the jetliner's nacelle system during an unprecedented lead time of only 42 months – some 18 months shorter than a standard cycle. This rapid development was made possible, in part, by the use of virtual reality to quickly validate new manufacturing and assembly methods, design ergonomic tools and efficiently train operators.

Airbus A330neo with nacelles by Safran Nacelles
The nacelle systems surrounding the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines were developed by Safran Nacelles with unprecedented speed – 18 months faster than a standard development cycle.

Virtual reality allows for immersion and interactivity with the industrial environment through dynamic 3D glasses. This resulted in a tool budget being reduced by 10 percent and validation times for industrial milestones cut in half.

In addition to working with an international supply chain, Safran Nacelles' own industrial sites in Colomiers, Le Havre and Florange, France; Burnley in the U.K.; and Casablanca, Morocco, contribute to A330neo nacelle production.

The A330neo's nacelle has an interior diameter of 3.65 meters, placing it in the same size category as those produced by Safran Nacelles for the Airbus A380 – for which the company also has full development and integration responsibility. As with the A380, Safran Nacelles applied its expertise in the use of composite materials, acoustic treatment and system architecture.

The Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engine has a rating of 68,000-72,000 lbs. thrust at maximum output, and is a successor to this engine manufacturer's Trent 700 powerplant used on current-production A330s. Safran Nacelles supplies thrust reversers for the Trent 700, having provided some 1,400 since the beginning of deliveries in the 1990s for the A330; the company also has responsibility for the integration.