The latest version of the Airbus A350 completed its first flight Monday morning, cruising over the Mediterranean Sea in a series of long loops after taking off from the company’s headquarters in Toulouse, France.
The A350-900ULR (for Ultra Long Range) is a modified design of the existing A350-900, but with a redesigned fuel system and extended winglets that enable it to fly halfway around the Earth.
With a total range of 9,700 nautical miles (1,600 more than the current A350-900), the A350-900ULR will be able to fly 20 hours nonstop with a full load of passengers. Launch customer Singapore Airlines, which has ordered seven of the airliners, will use them to restart its 19-hour nonstop flights between New York and Singapore.
The airline already uses the A350-900 on such long routes as its 17-hour flight between San Francisco and Singapore, and Cathay Pacific will put theon its new 16-hour flight between Hong and Washington Dulles this September.
Once Singapore’s nonstop to New York starts next year, it will take the title of the world’s, beating both Qatar Airways’ 18-hour nonstop between Doha, Qatar, and Auckland, New Zealand (on a Boeing 777-200) and between Perth, Australia, and London (on a ).
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