Just as the aviation world celebrates 50 years in service of one of the world’s most popular aircraft, the Boeing-747 this weekend, world’s aviation industry is hearing the news about Airbus carrying out the successful test of its ultra-long range aircraft which will have a range of flying non-stop beyond 17,300 kilometres! The way we travel on international sectors is about to change dramatically in the coming years!
The Boeing-747 or Jumbo Jet as it is known, was for the last several decades the workhorse of several global airlines. Its hump in the fuselage made it stand apart all the other aircraft. Wide body and 350 tons of take-off weight made it sit like an elephant on the runway it was one of the favourites of all airline pilots. But now this majestic bird is being phased out by most of the airlines and it makes way for latest cutting edge technology offered in long range aircraft such as the Airbus A-350.
Ultra Long Range version of the A350 XWB, MSN 216, has successfully completed its first flight recently. The latest variant of the best-selling A350 XWB Family will be able to fly further than any other commercial airliner and will enter service with launch operator Singapore Airlines in second half 2018. The aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines has embarked on a short flight test programme to certify the changes over the standard A350-900 that will extend its range capability to 9,700 nautical miles or 17,400 kilometres.
These changes include a modified fuel system that increases fuel carrying capacity by 24,000 litres, without the need for additional fuel tanks. The test phase will also measure enhanced performance from aerodynamic improvements, including extended winglets. With a maximum take-off weight of 280 tons, the Ultra Long Range A350 XWB is capable of flying over 20 hours non-stop, combining the highest levels of passenger and crew comfort with unbeatable economics for such distances.
Altogether, Singapore Airlines has ordered seven A350-900 Ultra Long Range aircraft, which it will use on non-stop flights between Singapore and the US, including the world’s longest commercial service between Singapore and New York.
The A350 XWB is an all new family of wide body long-haul airliners shaping the future of air travel. The A350 XWB features the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fibre fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines. Together, these latest technologies translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency, with a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and emissions, and significantly lower maintenance costs. The A350 XWB features an Airspace by Airbus cabin offering absolute well-being on board with the quietest twin-aisle cabin and new air systems.
At the end of March 2018, Airbus has recorded a total of 854 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 45 customers worldwide, already making it one of the most successful wide body aircraft ever.
Singapore Airlines is one of the largest customers for the A350 XWB Family, having ordered a total of 67 A350-900s, including the seven Ultra Long Range models. The carrier has already taken delivery of 21 A350-900s.
However rival Boeing is not far behind. Boeing has now come up with its own ultra-long range birds. The Boeing 777-200LR is the world’s longest range airliner with a range of 17,395km. The aircraft was rolled out by Boeing several years ago and now an upgraded version is likely to be seen in the skies.
The aircraft is integrated with three optional body fuel tanks, enabling such a long range. It can fly between long haul destinations such as New York-Singapore, Perth-London, New York-Auckland, Chicago-Sydney and Miami-Taipei. The GE90-110B1 or GE90-115BL turbofans provide the aircraft with a cruise speed of 0.84 Mach at 35,000ft altitude. Another aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with a range of 14,800km to 15,750km (8,000nmi to 8,500nmi), stands third among the 10 longest range airliners in the world. Developed as a slightly larger variant of the 787-8, the aircraft can carry up to 290 passengers.
The way these developments are moving makes it evident that travellers on international sectors will get the opportunity to have more intercontinental non-stop flights. The world clearly is moving towards a long range non stop travel model instead of the hub and spoke model adopted earlier. A welcome sign for the global traveller.