The first Airbus A350-900 XWB ultra long-range (ULR) variant has been rolled-out of the Toulouse paint shop in the livery of launch customer Singapore Airlines (SIA).
The aircraft, F-WZFZ (c/n 220), made its maiden flight on July 5 and will now undergo final testing before being handed over to the airline later in the year. SIA has ordered seven examples of the ULR variant, all of which are now in various stages of assembly the manufacturer has confirmed.
The airline is planning to use its incoming A350-900ULRs to relaunch non-stop services from Singapore to Los Angeles and New York/Newark, the world’s longest commercial air routes. The carrier had previously flown the services with A340-500s configured in a 100-seat, all business class layout until rising operating costs led the airline to axe the links in 2013.
SIA’s website shows its new A350-900ULRs will be fitted with just 162 seats in a two-class configuration – 68 in business class and 94 premium economy seats. This compares to the carrier’s standard A350-900s, which are configured in three-class layout of 253 seats – 42 in business, 24 in premium economy and 187 seats in economy.
The A350-900ULR is the latest variant of the A350 XWB family and will have an extended range of up to 9,700 nautical miles (17,964km). This, the manufacturer said, has been achieved by modifying the aircraft’s fuel system and increasing its carrying capacity by 6,340 US gal (24,000lit) without the need for additional fuel tanks. With a maximum take-off weight of 280 tonnes, Airbus added that the aircraft can fly for more than 20 hours non-stop.