An Airbus A350-900 ULR (ultra long-range) made its first flight on April 23, as part of a short flight test program expected to last just a few weeks, before its first delivery in the second half of 2018.
The aircraft, MSN 216, will be the only test aircraft. Launch customer Singapore Airlines has ordered seven so that it can re-introduce non-stop flights from Singapore to New York primarily.
Airbus is working with Qantas, whom it hopes will select the A350ULR for the planned expansion of ultra-long haul services from Australia.
The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 280 tons, up from the current 275 tons. Airbus has also introduced aerodynamic changes to the wing:
- the winglets are now 0.5 meters higher
- the flap fairings are extended by 0.3 meters.
- The wing twist has also been changed slightly.
- The fuel tanks have been expanded by 24,000 litres
- it will have a range of 9,700nm compared to 8,100nm for the A350-900 and 7,950nm for the -1000.
The changes to the wing will become standard on the A350-900 and -1000. The 280-ton MTOW will be available for all A359 customer going forward.