Airbus A350-900ULR to fly world’s longest commercial passenger route

Computer rendering of the Airbus A350-900ULR in Singapore Airlines livery that is set to claim the world's longest commercial passenger flight route in 2018

Any masochists who think spending just under 17 hours on a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney just isn’t long enough are set to get a chance to test their endurance further. Airbus is to supply Singapore Airlines with seven Ultra-Long Range versions of its A350-900 that can fly for up to 19 hours non-stop, allowing the airline to relaunch direct flights between Singapore and the US, including New York.

The Dallas/Fort Worth to Sydney service flown by Qantas is currently the world’s longest commercial passenger route, with an Airbus A380-842 covering the 13,805 km (8,578 mi) distance in just under 17 hours. But in August Emirates announced plans to beat this with non-stop flights between Dubai and Panama City to begin in February next year. Emirates will use Boeing 777-200LR aircraft on the route, which is 13,821 km (8,588 mi) long and will take 17 hours 35 minutes for the westbound trip.

But Emirates may not hold the world’s longest commercial passenger route title for long, with Singapore Airlines set to recommence non-stop flights between Singapore and both Los Angeles and New York in 2018. The airline previously operated these routes (technically Newark, NJ rather than New York) until 2013, when the A340-500s that flew it were retired.

The newly launched A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range) variant, boasting a range of up to 8,700 nm (10,012 mi/16,112 km), will allow the airline to re-launch these routes and claim the longest route title from Emirates with the over 15,300-km (9,500-mi) trip to take around 19 hours.

The A350-900ULR can go the distance thanks to a number of changes not found on the standard long-haul specification A350-900. These include a modified fuel system that increases the aircraft’s fuel carrying capacity from 141,000 liters to 165,000 liters, aerodynamic improvements and an increase in maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to 280 tonnes (309 tons).

Seven of the 63 A350-900s Singapore Airlines has ordered will be upgraded to A350-900ULR variants, with the airline set to take delivery of its first A350-900 in early 2016, with deliveries of the A350-900ULR aircraft to follow in 2018.

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