First extended-range A350 XWB to begin ground tests


The first Ultra Long Range version of the A350 XWB has rolled out of the Airbus final assembly line in Toulouse and has moved to an outdoor station where it will undergo extensive ground tests prior to installation of its Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

The A350-900 Ultra Long Range (ULR) aircraft will be able to fly further than any other commercial airliner and will enter service with launch operator Singapore Airlines later this year. It has a range of 9,700 nautical miles, meaning it can stay in the air for up to 20 hours, and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 280 tons.

The aircraft is due to undergo a short flight test program to certify the changes over the standard A350 XWB that bring the additional range capability. These include a modified fuel system that increases fuel carrying capacity by 24,000 liters, without the need for additional fuel tanks. The test phase will also measure enhanced performance derived from aerodynamic improvements, including extended winglets.

Singapore Airlines has ordered seven A350 XWB ULR aircraft, which it will use on non-stop flights between Singapore and the USA, including the world’s longest commercial service between Singapore and New York.

The A350 XWB is a new family of wide-body long-haul airliners that feature a more aerodynamic design, a carbon-fiber fuselage and wings, and fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines. Airbus says the aircraft offer a 25% reduction in fuel burn and emissions, and lower maintenance costs compared to previous generation competitor aircraft.

To date, Airbus has recorded a total of 854 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 45 customers worldwide.

March 1, 2018

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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