Singapore Airlines once held the record for the World’s Longest Nonstop Flight. That distinction has been claimed by Qatar Airways flight between Doha, Qatar and Auckland, New Zealand. This time, Singapore Airlines is ready to take back the record with a non-stop Singapore to New York flight.
How far do they go?
The 20-hour non-stop flight is made possible with the new Airbus A350-900ULR. The ULR for Ultra Long Range, variant retains the same characteristics of the Airbus 350-900, but with larger fuel capacity. The A350-900 and the A350-1000 share the same wing structure and common sized center fuel tank. However, with the A350-900 has a larger capacity of 24,000 liters compared to the standard 20,000 liters of fuel in the older planes. This is due to having a longer tank, and more tubes filled with fuel. The ULR is capable of flying 11,160 miles, which is 1,800 miles mover than the regular A350.
Qantas Airlines flies a Boeing 787 between Perth and London, which is three hours shorter than the Singapore Airlines New York to Singapore nonstop flight. Qantas uses a Boeing 78709 Dreamliner on the 9,010 mile flight. The Dreamliner is capable of 236 seats, with 42 seats in business class. The Qatar Airways Auckland to Doha has a distance of 9,032 miles and is 18 hours and 5 minutes long using a Boeing 777-200LR.
Getting to know the design
The A350-900 was designed from the ground up for the long range flights. The plane carries 4,000 liters more fuel, equivalent to an additional 20,000 pounds on takeoff. This creates a balancing act between the takeoff weight, number of passengers and the cost per flight. To achieve the long range capability, Airbus had to decide between increasing the maximum take off weight (MTOW), or limit the number of passengers or cargo, or a combination of both.
The A350-900 included other modifications including the use of composite materials like carbon fiber, instead of aluminum construction techniques. The techniques made it possible to have wide panoramic windows. Airbus also increased the MTOW to 280 tons, which is 5 tons heavier than the standard A350.
The standard A350-900 has 253 seats. This will probably be modified for the New York-Singapore flight. There will be fewer total seats, but there will be a bigger area for business class as well as premium economy passengers. The seating would also be changed, to have a more room like seating, instead of rows of seats.
According to the A350 head of marketing Marisa Lucas-Ugena, all that Airbus did to the ULR was “to use all of the volume that we have in the center tank, a bit more usage than we have for the -1000.”
She added that there were no changes to the plane’s capacity. Instead there were optimizations which helped decrease the weight, increase the power, and hence also increase the amount of fuel it can carry. She adds that at Airbus “when we have a family of airplanes, any time we have a new type or a new modification, we take the opportunity to improve things.”