A new Airbus in the sky

Set to enter service next year, the Airbus A330neo boasts new engines, a quieter passenger cabin and redesigned wings.

Kent German
Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).

The newest Airbus airliner soared into the sky this morning from the company's headquarters in Toulouse, France.

After taking off at 9:57 a.m. local time, the Airbus A330neo completed a three-hour long test flight, mostly flying in long loops over southwestern France. 

Though it's based on the existing A330 that first flew 25 years ago, the A330neo is almost a complete design. Among its  improvements are quieter Rolls Royce Trent 7000 jet engines -- "neo" is an acronym for New Engine Option). An upgraded cabin interior, a more efficient wing design and new cockpit technology are also in the mix. The A330neo has an increased range over its predecessor (up to 6,550 nautical miles) and can carry 10 more passengers (287 seats in a typical configuration).

Watch this: A new Airbus soars on first flight

Airbus said it has orders for 212 A330neos from carriers like Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Air Asia and Tap Portugal. The aircraft is expected to enter service in early 2018. 

Another new  Airbus , the A350-1000, should start flying with Qatar Airways by year's end. The A350-1000, which is Airbus' answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, first flew from Toulouse in November.