There are some instances where the brightest minds in aeronautics are put to the test designing and developing engineering feats that nobody ever really wants to use. In this case, I present to you the Airbus A350-900ULR.
ULR, I should add, stands for Ultra Long Range, and Airbus’s new plane is setting out to break some records. Once it enters service with Singapore Airlines in October, the A350-900 will embark on the longest continuous flight on record.
The trip will go from Singapore to Newark and it will take a whopping 19 hours. I have many questions, the least of which is – why anyone would want to go to Newark badly enough to sit on a plane for 19 hours…? But, that’s beside the point.
Apparently, Airbus was able to reach this incredible uninterrupted flight time with a change to the fuel system which allows for the plane to carry more volume – thus adding about 1,600 miles in range. Another update has to do with aerodynamics, a design change that Airbus says increases the fuel efficiency of the aircraft by 25 percent.
But because carrying a massive amount of fuel adds weight, thus requiring even more fuel, the Airbus 350-900 has been designed for a lighter passenger load – with 67 seats in business class and 94 in economy. Compare this to Airbus’s largest jumbo jet, which carries up to 500 passengers.
But the lighter passenger load has a dual purpose: apparently a super-packed plane isn’t anyone’s first choice when spending nearly a full day and night in the air. With a smaller group in tow, the cabin should be roomier and quieter. And while there will be loads of entertainment options available, I think I’d honestly be happier with a connection.
Luckily, these flights aren’t really aimed at the likes of me. The lighter passenger load and high fuel expenditure should send ticket prices way up, and this long-haul option is reportedly aimed at businesspeople who will gladly throw their expense account at a flight with the most direct route and then just cross their fingers that nobody pukes.