Although Singapore Airlines will be able to launch its nonstop San Francisco service with its latest Airbus A350-900, its planned Los Angeles operation will require the longer-range -900ULR variant.

The airline plans to open the San Francisco route on 23 October, using the aircraft handed over in Toulouse on 14 October in a ceremony marking 10,000 Airbus deliveries.

Both San Francisco and Los Angeles are situated on the California coast but the great-circle route to these cities – similar to that flown by the airline – passes south of Alaska and approaches them from the north.

This means that the route to Los Angeles extends some 280nm beyond that to San Francisco.

Singapore Airlines A350 fleet instructor Capt Gan Kim Hock, speaking to FlightGlobal during the Toulouse event, said the additional distance amounts to 45min flying time.

“It makes a difference,” he says. While Gan believes the -900 – which has a range of 8,100nm, according to Airbus – could perform the service, he says the route requires wider performance margins.

Singapore Airlines will take delivery of the A350-900ULR from 2018.

Airbus head of A350 marketing Marisa Lucas says that all A350s produced from that year will have the capability to be converted to the ULR version.

Singapore Airlines has still not disclosed the configuration for the seven -900ULRs it will acquire.

Chief executive Goh Choon Phong says the carrier is “not at this moment ready to reveal details”, but adds: “It’s something our customers will absolutely love.”

Source: Cirium Dashboard