17 July 2015

A350 ultra-long-range version under analysis

Leeham News believes that Airbus is close to launching an “A350-900LR” (Ultra-Long Range) in response to talks with Singapore Airlines for a longer-range airplane.

Source: Oliver Louis

As stated in the article, Singapore Airlines (70 A350s on order) is in talks with Airbus and Boeing about an Ultra-Long Haul airplane that can fly from Singapore to the US non-stop.

“We, of course, want it as soon as possible,” Singapore Air CEO Goh Choon Phong said.

Source: Lindner Fotografie

Singapore discontinued the flights to Los Angeles (7,560nm) and Newark (9,020nm) when rising fuel prices made operation of the Airbus A340-500 used on the trips uneconomic.

The Airbus A350-900 has a range of 7,900nm when transporting the same 301 passengers as 777-200LR. Boeing’s forthcoming 777-8X has a planned range of 9,300nm but it’s entry-into-service isn’t planned until around 2022.

With the 777-8X at least 7 years into the future, and with 70 aircraft order for the A350-900, Singapore’s only modern choice for an Ultra-Long Haul airplane would be an improved version of the A350-900.

Airbus could achieve the performance required increasing the Max Take-Off Weight of the A350-900 from 268t to 280t.

This would allow an additional 12 tonnes of fuel to be tanked and this could extend the range to 8,600nm thereby reducing 22% fuel consumption respect 777-200LR.

The increase of Max Take-Off Weight of A350-900 is possible as the extra weight is fuel and this goes into the wings, where it sits close to the lift, thereby causing a minimal increase of loads into the wing and fuselage of the A350.

Airbus has seen that there are structural margins in the A350 design, so likely improvements would be constrained to local beefing up of things like brakes to achieve an “A350-900LR.”

One other area Airbus would also be looking to change would be the tank size of A350-900. With its standard 138.000 liters it would be on the limit for a 8,600nm mission and with any cabin with less seats or lower load-factor than 100% the aircraft would be fuel limited.

Airbus could include the larger wing tank area from A350-1000 in a “A350-900LR” design. With its 156,000 liters it would give plenty of room for the necessary fuel for Singapore Airlines long range US missions.

Based on the article “Airbus in talks with Singapore for ultra-long range airplane; “A350-900LR” likely” published in Leeham News


  1. This is very good. According to my maths, that gives the A350-900LR a range of 9725nm. I suppose this aircraft would need to be certified. If so that makes it pretty tight as Singapore Airlines is due its first deliveries some time in 2017.

    1. I believe Singapore Airlines has its first deliveries in early 2016, but it won't require an LR version for all planes, so Airbus would probably have enough time to develop an LR for Singapore