Respected UK site Aviation Analyst is reporting that Airbus is preparing to launch the A350-1000ULR this year, a pumped up version of the existing A350-900ULR and the answer to Alan Joyce’s Project Sunrise prayers.
It’s no secret that Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, has thrown down the gauntlet to both Airbus and Boeing as the airline looks to fly from Australia’s east coast to New York, London, Capetown and Rio de Janeiro nonstop.
The maximum range of the A350-900ULR is 9,700 nautical miles. That’s enough to get it from Singapore to Newark, albeit lightly loaded. But Qantas needs to squeeze out an extra one thousand nautical miles to achieve its desired nonstop flights.
Alan Joyce has long said he expected to make an announcement on the aircraft for Project Sunrise by the end of 2019 – giving both Airbus and Boeing a definitive timeline to come up with an aircraft to meet his needs.
Two months ago, Airbus said it had just that and it appears the impending launch of the A350-1000ULR is their offering to My Joyce. Boeing is expected to produce an extended range version of the 777, but there is no word from Seattle yet and Boeing is pretty much having a lousy year all round.
As per standard practice this year, we can expect Airbus to pip Boeing to the post here.
You might think it uneviable to produce a niche aircraft for a sole customer, but SQ is the only A350-900ULR customer. To some degree it is a prestige, marque issue.
Qantas is Boeing heavy. It does have a fleet of A380s but these are slated for retirement. Airbus is having a cracker of a year at Boeing’s expense and the odds on Alan Joyce announcing Qantas as the launch customer for the A350-1000ULR will now be shortening by the day.
The next guessing game will be when will the planes be delivered and where will they fly to first – New York or London?