Watch the world's longest range airliner's final assembly
Watch as the world's first Airbus A350-900ULR (ultra long range) is assembled, ready for delivery to Singapore Airlines. The plane will fly the world's longest non-stop route, Singapore to New York, from October 2018. Video: Airbus
Singapore Airlines took delivery on Sunday of the Airbus A350-900 ultra long range aircraft to start a non-stop service to New York, a journey of about 19 hours that will become the world's longest.
The first commercial flight between Singapore and Newark Liberty International Airport will be on October 11, Singapore Air said in a statement yesterday. This is the first of the seven A350-900ULRs the carrier has on firm order with Airbus.
Reviving the route that the Singapore flag carrier scrapped more than four years ago will help the airline fill a gap in its US network that has benefited rivals including Qantas Airways and Cathay Pacific Airways, Singapore Air's new service -- which will overtake Qatar Airways' Doha-Auckland route as the world's longest -- will initially offer three flights in the first week, increasing to daily from October 18.
Singapore Airlines will use the aircraft for non-stop services to Los Angeles in November.
In a bold move, the plane flying the Singapore to New York route will only offer premium seating, with 67 business class and 94 premium economy class seats. This is a similar set-up to when Singapore previously flew this same route, using a four-engine Airbus A340 which featured only business class seats.
The fuel inefficiency of the A340 saw the route become unprofitable and it was dropped in 2013 after less than 10 years in service.
Since then, new fuel-efficient aircraft such as the A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner have seen an increase in the number of ultra-long-haul routes airlines are flying.
Here are some of the features of Singapore Air's A350-900ULR:
- The plane is capable of flying about 20 hours non-stop. The flight to New York will cover a distance of approximately 16,700 kilometres, with travelling time of up to 18 hours and 45 minutes
- The aircraft is configured in a two-class layout with 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats
- The ULR is a variant of the A350, with the main change over the standard aircraft being a modified fuel system. This will help the plane carry 165,000 liters of fuel, an increase of 24,000 litres: Airbus
- The plane also features a number of aerodynamic enhancements, including extended winglets: Airbus
The ULR doesn't require additional fuel tanks over the standard A350-900, but instead uses additional space already available in the existing tanks to carry an extra 6,340 gallons of fuel to take its range to 9,700 nautical miles (17,900km), or 1600 miles more than the standard -900. Airbus said the plane can stay aloft for more than 20 hours at a time.
The seven A350-900ULRs ordered by Singapore Airlines are currently the only ones ordered from Airbus by any airline. However, Qantas has been looking at the new long-rage aircraft as the possible solution to its "Project Sunrise" challenge - an aim to introduce non-stop flights between Australia's east coast capitals and London, along with New York, by 2022.
The world's longest flights (until October)
- Doha-Auckland, Qatar Airways, 14,529 km
- London-Perth, Qantas, 14,496 km
- Dubai-Auckland, Emirates, 14,200 km
- Los Angeles-Singapore, United Airlines, 14,113 km
- Houston-Sydney, United Airlines, 13,833 km
- Sydney-Dallas, Qantas, 13,804 km
- San Francisco-Singapore, United Airlines & Singapore Airlines, 13,592 km
- Atlanta-Johannesburg, Delta, 13,581 km
- Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles, Etihad, 13,502 km
- Dubai-Los Angeles, Emirates, 13420 km