Airbus claims its new plane will be able to fly further than any other commercial aircraft type.
An ultra-long range version of the A350 XWB, MSN 216, which the manufacturer Airbus claims will be able to fly further than any other commercial aircraft type, has completed its first flight.
This latest variant of the A350 XWB family will enter service with its launch operator Singapore Airlines in second half of 2018.
Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the plane has now embarked on a short flight test program to certify changes over the standard A350-900 that will extend its range capability to 9,700 nautical miles (18,000 kilometres).
These changes include a modified fuel system that boosts fuel carrying capacity by 24,000 litres, without the need for additional fuel tanks.
This flight test phase will also measure the aircraft’s enhanced performance from aerodynamic improvements, including extended winglets.
With a maximum take-off weight 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”, the manufacturer says.
Altogether, Singapore Airlines has ordered seven of the A350-900 aircraft, which it will use on direct flights between Singapore and the US – including the world’s longest commercial service between Singapore and New York, a route SIA previously flew for ten years from 2004.