Long-range Singapore plane dressed for the longest haul

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July 31, 2018
Singap[ore A350-900ULR Airbus paint
Singapore Airlines' first A350-900ULR, MSN220, rolls out of the paint shop. Photo: Airbus

The first Airbus A350-900ULR to be delivered to launch customer Singapore Airlines has rolled out of the Airbus paint shop dressed for its debut on the world’s longest commercial service.

The aircraft, which first took to the air in April,  has a range of up to 9700kms and can fly more than 20 hours non-stop.

Singapore has ordered seven of the planes and will use them to operate non-stop flights to Us destinations such as New York and Los Angeles.

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The Singapore-New York service, due to start to Newark Liberty International Airport on October 11, will be the world’s longest commercial service and will take over from Doha-Auckland.

The aircraft will be configured in a two-class layout, with 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats, for roughly 9000-nautical mile (16,7000km) flight of up to 18hours 45 minutes.

Airbus said the aircraft was now in an advanced stage of production and would undergo further testing before being delivered to the airline in the coming months.

The A350-900ULR achieves is long ranges through a modified fuel system, which increases the aircraft’s fuel carrying capacity by 24,000 litres without the need for additional fuel tanks.

It has a maximum take-off weight of 280 tonnes is a competitor to the Boeing 777-8X, which is expected to have a range of at least 8700nm and a passenger capacity of 350-375 passengers when it enters service in 2022.

Australian carrier Qantas is examining both aircraft as part of its ambitious “Project Sunrise” proposals for non-stop flights on ultra-long-haul routes such as Sydney-London and Sydney-New York.

Both sides are confident their aircraft can achieve the mission and Boeing has said it is looking at modifications to the B777-8X to meet the demanding Qantas specifications.

The A350 has been a success for Airbus, which had recorded 882 firm orders from 46 customers by the end of June.

Singapore Airlines is one of the largest customers for the A350 XWB Family, having ordered a total of 67 A350-900s, including the seven ULR  models. The carrier has already taken delivery of 21 A350-900s.