This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Airbus is making the world smaller, and our nonstop flights longer. The very first A350-900 ULR (Ultra Long-Range) aircraft took off from Airbus’ manufacturing headquarters in Toulouse, France on Monday, completing its first test flight as Airbus prepares the airplane for delivery to Singapore Airlines later this year. It will be used to relaunch the Singapore to New York flight, which will become the longest nonstop in the world.
The aircraft, registered F-WZNY, flew for 4 hours and 40 minutes over France and the Mediterranean before returning to Toulouse.
The A350-900 ULR, the super long-range version of the existing twinjet widebody, will be able to carry more fuel and fly quite a bit farther than the existing A350-900. So far, in fact that it will make feasible some ultra long-haul flights that were once either out of reach or uneconomical. Singapore Airlines — so far the only customer of this specialized aircraft — hopes to take full advantage of this increased range with nonstop flights to New York City (probably Newark, EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX), two routes it once flew with the four-engined A340-500 but terminated in late 2014 due to high operating costs. Airbus hopes other long-haul airlines like Australian flag carrier Qantas will also take interest in the plane, particularly as Qantas begins connecting distant cities with nonstop flights, like their new Perth to London nonstop service. Airbus claims the ULR will have a range of 9,700 nautical miles — over 10,000 statute miles — some 1,600 nautical miles more than the A350-900 and nearly 2,000 nautical miles more than the A350-1000. This is more than enough for a 19-hour New York – Singapore nonstop, but not quite enough for, say, Sydney to New York.
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
Singapore expects to take delivery of its first A350-900 ULR in August of this year, and, while the airline hasn’t specified, we expect the aircraft to come with a special low-density configuration, similar to the A340-500s that once flew to New York and LA — then the longest nonstops in the world. While those old A340s had only 100 business class seats in the whole cabin, we expect these planes to come with a two-cabin configuration, likely with Singapore’s A350 business class seats. We can’t be sure until they’re bookable, but if you’re interested in booking what will be the world’s longest flight on points, we’d bet it won’t be cheap, even with Singapore’s great award availability.
Feature image courtesy of Airbus / P. Pigeyre
This cash back card has a focus on dining and entertainment where you can earn unlimited 4% cash back in those spending categories. You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
- Access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that