Airbus has embarked on the flight test programme for the ultra long-range (ULR) variant of the A350 XWB Family. The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered aircraft, F-WZNY (c/n 216), made its maiden flight on April 23 and is now working to certify the changes over the standard A350-900 that will extend its range capabilities to 9,700 nautical miles (17,965km), or more than 20 hours non-stop flying. This include a modified fuel system that increases fuel carrying capacity by 5,940gal (24,000lit) without the need for additional fuel tanks. The European aerospace giant said the test phase will also measure the enhanced performance from aerodynamic improvements made to the aircraft’s design including its extended winglets.
The A350-900ULR is scheduled to enter service with launch operator Singapore Airlines during the second half of this year. The Asian carrier is one of the largest customers for the A350 XWB Family, with 67 A350-900s on order including seven of the ULR variant. The airline is planning to use its aircraft on non-stop flights between Singapore and the US, including the relaunch of the world’s longest commercial service between Singapore and New York, a journey of 8,285 nautical miles (15,344km).