The Ultra Long Range version of the Airbus A350, designed to fly further than any other commercial airliner, is due to enter service with launch operator Singapore Airlines in the second half of 2018.
The Ultra Long Range (ULR) version of the Airbus A350, MSN 216, has successfully completed its first flight. The latest variant of the A350, which Airbus says will be able to fly further than any other commercial airliner, is due to enter service with launch operator Singapore Airlines in the second half of 2018.
The aircraft, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, has embarked on a short flight test programme to certify the changes over the standard A350-900 that will extend its range capability to 9,700 nautical miles (17,960km).
These changes include a modified fuel system that increases fuel carrying capacity by 24,000 litres, without the need for additional fuel tanks. The aircraft also features certain aerodynamic improvements, including extended winglets, whose performance will be measured during the test phase.
With a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 280t, the Ultra Long Range A350 is capable of flying over 20 hours non-stop.
Altogether, Singapore Airlines has ordered seven A350-900 Ultra Long Range aircraft, which it will use on non-stop flights between Singapore and the US, including the world’s longest commercial service between Singapore and New York.
The Singapore carrier has operated this route in the past, using A340-500s with a reduced seat count. However, the service — offered from 2004 to 2013 — proved uneconomical using the four-engine A340 due to high fuel costs.
Singapore Airlines is one of the largest customers for the A350, having ordered a total of 67 A350-900s, including the seven Ultra Long Range models. The carrier has already taken delivery of 21 A350-900s.