LONDON – Airbus has today announced that the first Airbus A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range) variant has completed its first flight out of Toulouse.
MSN216, the aircraft in question, is capable of traveling up to 9,700 nautical miles on one tank and will be delivered to launch customer Singapore Airlines in the second half of this year.
Singapore Airlines is one of the largest customers for the A350 XWB Family, 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.
The changes to the ULR variant include a modified fuel system that increases fuel carrying capacity by 24,000 liters, without the need for additional fuel tanks. The test phase will also measure enhanced performance from aerodynamic improvements, including extended winglets.
The @Airbus A350-900 ULR has completed its first flight. Airbus says it has a range of 9,700 nautical miles (~20 hours) with an MTOW 280 tonnes.@SingaporeAir will take 7 of them. pic.twitter.com/hAVQQhOyRc
— Jason Rabinowitz (@AirlineFlyer) April 23, 2018
With a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 280 tonnes, the Ultra Long Range A350 XWB is capable of flying over 20 hours non-stop, combining the highest levels of passenger and crew comfort with unbeatable economics for such distances, according to its manufacturer.
Altogether, Singapore Airlines has ordered seven A350-900ULR planes, 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.
At the end of March 2018, Airbus has recorded a total of 854 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 45 customers worldwide, already making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft ever.
The delivery of the first -900ULR will complete the A350 family overall, especially with the -900 being in service for a number of years followed by the commercial launch of the -1000 to Qatar Airways back in February 2018.
When Singapore Airlines receive the variant, it will be an interesting time because carriers around the world will be watching to see whether the -900ULR is the better competitor to the Boeing 787-9, something that Singapore Airlines is also heavily invested in through their other subsidiaries.