The Airbus A350-1000 has been announced as the aircraft manufacturer’s prime contender for Qantas’ Project Sunrise initiative.
Project Sunrise is Qantas’ plan to introduce non-stop international flights from the east coast of Australia to as far as London and New York City.
Airbus management says that the Airbus A350-1000 will be ready by the end of 2022, when Project Sunrise is expected to launch.
Airbus A350-1000 has “excellent economics and fuel burn”
An Airbus marketing representative commented that the aircraft has “excellent economics and fuel burn”, and is Airbus’ last offer to the Australian airline.
It features a maximum range of 8,700 nautical miles and has the capacity to carry 375 passengers. Qantas does require an amount larger than 375, although Airbus suggested that “fine-tuning” will remedy any issues.
The A350-1000 plans to have extra fuel capacity compared to the older A350-900 model. The maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) will also jump from 316 to 319.
What is noteworthy is that the 8,700 nautical mile range will probably cover the distance between New York and Sydney. But it does not meet the 9,200 nautical mile distance between London and Sydney. Airbus has not mentioned if they plan to introduce any specific changes to meet Project Sunrise’s requirements.
Airbus A350-1000 compared to Boeing 777X
Airbus’ aircraft will be competing against the Boeing 777X for Project Sunrise.
In 2021, Boeing is due to launch the Boeing 777X-9. It seats over 400 passengers and has a range of about 7,660 nautical miles.
The release of the 777X-9 will reportedly allow Qantas to start operating Project Sunrise flights earlier than the expected beginning date of 2022 or 2023.
Despite this, Marisa Lucas-Ugena, from Airbus marketing, said that the A350 is the more suitable option. She claims that it is lighter and saves more on fuel. It is also a brand new design.
Qantas to make its choice in December 2019
The aviation industry awaits Qantas’ final decision on selecting either the Airbus A350-1000 or the Boeing 777X-9 in December 2019 for its long awaited Project Sunrise.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce commented that he knows “Boeing and Airbus have aircraft that can do the job, and we have their best-and-final offers on the table – including a compelling offer from Boeing …”
Qantas, meanwhile, is busy with its research. A ‘research flight’ took off in October (a Boeing 787-9) from New York to Sydney. Totaling 19 hours and 16 minutes, the flight is the next step towards the airline commencing its first official flight.