Cathay Pacific was an early advocate of the A330 ordering nine aircraft in 1989 before the type had even flown. The first A330 rolled out on October 14, 1992 and flew for the first time on November 2. Cathay's faith in the A330 was rewarded with a trouble-free certification culminating in a pass grade from both the FAA and JAA on October 21, 1993.
Not only that but even early on the huge growth potential of the A330 was demonstrated in that its performance was better than anticipated and the aircraft could carry more than 6,600 pounds payload on sectors of 3,000 nautical miles than had been expected. This capability to add to the base airframe has seen the A330 improved to such a degree that it has not only eclipsed the 767-300 but also its sister A340 programme and the 767-400 and 777-200ERs also.
It is somewhat fitting that in July 2013 Cathay had the honour of accepting B-LBB, the 1000th A330 delivered. The A330 continues to form the basis of Cathay’s medium haul fleet and the airline is scheduled to expand its Airbus widebody fleet with 48 A350s in the next few years.
All large photos from the Author's collection
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: