Airbus A350-1000 gets range boost as rolling development continues

Airbus notified EASA of a 3 ton weight increase, from the already improved 316 ton MTOW to 319 tons this week.

The A350-1000 will now have a range of 8,700nm up from 8,400. The max landing weight hasn’t changed at 236 tons

In addition to the weight lift, Airbus is stating the A350-1000 passenger capacity as 440 maximum seating, or 350-410 in a three-class layout using ten-abreast economy seats, so more closely matching the 777-8/9.

Airbus has already made it public that both the A350-900 and -1000 are able to fulfil Qantas’ requirements for Project Sunrise – the ability to reach London-Heathrow and New York-JFK non-stop. The unanswered question is what the payload and passenger numbers will be to make that happen.

The A350 has been subject to rolling developments on its wings, reducing friction, a 50cm increase and modified twist to the tip being obvious. It’s also had thinner carbon composite used on the wing laminate to reduce weight.

More is planned – airbus publicly offered recruitment opportunities for an A350neo project late in 2018. That isn’t going to see daylight until 2023-5 because it will rely on the engine suppliers offering a unit that can make it happen.

Rolls Royce’s Ultra-Fan and P&W’s Scaled Geared Turbofan are slated for that development.

Meanwhile the Project Sunrise proposals have to be with Qantas by August. The airline says it will decide by year end.

Either way, while it will be a prestigious win for whoever manages it, other airlines are taking note. Qatar, British Airways, Lufthansa, AF-KLM are all looking at the implications of non-stop DULL (Direct Ultra LonghauL) flights.

Only British Airways with a single stop flies from Europe to Australia, no other airline does despite extensive cultural and family links. That business is funnelled through Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad from Europe.

Only Heathrow has direct stop over flights to New Zealand on ANZ via LAX.

Sooner or later both Boeing and Airbus will produce aircraft the Europeans can use to finally open up the huge direct market to Australia, currently served through the Gulf State hubs.

With instability rife in the Gulf now and always a threat, the appeal of those flights will only grow.