In an effort to secure Qantas as an A350 customer, Airbus is reportedly close to launching the “A350-1000ULR”.
Should the launch occur as rumoured airlines will have the option to convert existing A350 orders to the type, providing greater flexibility.
Larger and heavier than the A350-900 and the A350-900ULR, the potential A350-1000ULR would enable airlines to fly further than ever before with even more passengers.
A key move to secure Qantas, the launch of such aircraft would raise additional questions around Boeing; who just announced that the development of their longest range 777X variant has been suspended.
Despite this announcement Boeing and Qantas maintain they’re still in talks, after a “compelling offer” was placed on the table.
Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas, wants an aircraft from either Airbus or Boeing that can fly 21 hours non-stop, from the east coast of Australia to Europe and parts of America.
The competition, titled “Project Sunrise”, was launched with the Airbus A350-900ULR and the Boeing 777-8 in mind, however has since been adjusted for a potential A350-1000ULR and further 777-8 developments.
Singapore Airlines is the only operator of the A350-900ULR. Configured in a two-class premium layout, the aircraft operates their Singapore to Newark and San Francisco route.
A cheap airframe, the A350-900ULR utilizes minor plumbing and cargo hold changes to achive its advertised range of 9,700nm.
The A350-1000ULR would likely benefit from the same changes, as well as potentially an additional fuel tank to really push the aircraft for the extra time.
To accommodate this, a maximum takeoff weight upgrade and strengthened landing gear and/or fuselage components will likely be implemented.
Alex Macheras also notes Airbus and airlines are interested in the A380 replacement prospects the A350 Family has to offer.
Qatar Airways Group CEO H.E, Mr Akbar Al Baker, exclusively told Macheras that Airbus plans on increasing the maximum takeoff weight of the A350-1000 from 2020, allowing for greater hauling capability.
“Once Airbus extends the maximum takeoff weight of the A350-1000 this jet will be able to do, with lesser capacity, the same routes as the 777X, including to Australia.”H.E Akbar Al Baker via Aviation Analyst (Alex Macheras)
Airbus has already confirmed they have an aircraft capable of operating Qantas’ enormous flights, so this announcement may come as an extension of this news.
Although an official announcement has yet to be made, the launch of the A350-1000ULR is highly likely; thanks to Qantas’ interests as well as interest from the likes of Qatar Airways, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.
Long haul appears to be Airbus’ jewel in recent times, with a highly successful launch of the A321XLR and reliable service statistics from the A350-900ULR.
Do you see much demand for the A350-1000ULR?