The Airbus A330-200F cargo jet made its maiden test flight Nov. 5, launching the European aerospace firm's challenge to U.S. rival Boeing in the market for mid-sized freighters.
The aircraft took off for a four hour flight from Toulouse airport near the main Airbus plant in the south of France. It is due to enter service in mid-2010 with Abu Dhabi's Etihad Crystal Cargo, which has ordered three.
Airbus has booked 87 orders from nine carriers for the plane, which is a modified freight version of the 253-seat A330 passenger jet.
Turkish Airlines became a potential tenth customer last week when it signed a memorandum of understanding for two A330-200Fs.
The A330-200F, which has a list price of approximately $184 million, has a 69 tonne payload and can fly 3,200 miles non-stop.
Airbus has forecast airlines will order 1,600 mid-sized freighters of 30 to 80 tonnes capacity during the next 20 years to keep pace with an expected 5.2 percent average annual market growth.
"The A330-200F is the right aircraft at the right time," said John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer for customers. "We are at the eve of a market recovery, and now is the time for airlines to prepare for future freight growth."
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