The secret to Airbus' ultra-long range A350 jets? There isn't one...

By Bloomberg News, June 2 2018
The secret to Airbus' ultra-long range A350 jets? There isn't one...

Airbus has seen widespread popularity for its newest A350 long-haul aircraft. But only one carrier so far – Singapore Airlines – has found the need for an ultra long-range version of the A350 that can fly almost 10,000 non-stop miles from Singapore to New York, and that airline has ordered just seven of the special jets.

Seven aircraft is a tiny number when one considers the economies of scale inherent to airplane manufacturing.

The secret? Well, it turns out that it’s not that much trouble to soup up this hot rod.

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, or 1,600 more than the standard A350-900.

"For us, it’s really just a -900," Marisa Lucas-Ugena, Airbus’ A350 marketing director, reveals.

“The only thing that is really specific for the ULR is the additional fuel. And even on that, we are using the space we already have. It’s really just a minor evolution of that system with additional piping and additional venting.”

The changes to make an A350-900 into the ULR have “no impact” on the production lines in Toulouse, France, Lucas-Ugena added, with the manufacturing time the same for both versions. Airbus aims to churn out ten A350s a month by year’s end, and currently has 832 orders for the A350 family.

If a total order of seven ULRs seems low, well, it’s of no consequence at Airbus. Says Lucas-Ugena: “It doesn’t really matter – we want to sell more A350s.”

Singapore Airlines' purchase of the ULR variants is part of a larger order of 67 A350s – a sizable request from a 40-year customer that makes any extra customization work palatable for a supplier.

It already flies the standard A350-900 on its current nonstop route to San Francisco, a flight of almost 17 hours, but Airbus says the ULR can stay aloft for more than 20 hours at a time.

The carrier expects to receive its first A350-900ULR in September, ahead of commencing its nonstop flights to New York on October 11. The airline will also use the plane to fly nonstop to Los Angeles and potentially a third North American destination.

Read: Singapore Airlines will restart non-stop New York flights in October

04 May 2018

Total posts 43

Good thinking ofcourse 'though reduced payload and possibly avoiding Russia and high overflight costs.

A380 could fly direct route (via Russia) on reduced payload, maybe only 400 pax in more comfort 'though probably no market with the additional $200 overflight fees.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 339

Be interesting to see if they make any more radical adjustments to meet Qantas requirements for a fully loaded jet to fly non stop to LHR and JFK 😉

10 May 2018

Total posts 12

I would much rather fly on an A350 than a B787 for such ultra-longhaul flights. I hope QF chooses these planes for their plans of a SYD/MEL-LHR and SYD/MEL-JFK non-stop flights.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Aug 2014

Total posts 40

second that ...

30 Mar 2016

Total posts 5

Qantas have said that they are tossing up between an A350 variant and a B777X variant for their proposed ULR routes, not a B787 variant.


07 Jan 2017

Total posts 30

Whisper I recently heard is QF are leaning towards a further improved A350 and if selected the current QF B787's will go to Jetstar.

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