Airbus’s upcoming Ultra Long Range variant of its A350 aircraft completed its first flight yesterday, with further testing set to take place before its delivery to launch customer Singapore Airlines in the second-half of 2018.

The new A350-900ULR has been designed to offer an extended range of 9,700 nautical miles over the standard A350-900 and is capable of flying for more than 20 hours non-stop, enabling airlines to reach currently inaccessible destinations.

Singapore Airlines has said it aims to relaunch its non-stop flights between Singapore and New York – the world’s longest commercial service – when it takes delivery of the new aircraft. The carrier has previously operated the route, using the manufacturer’s A340 aircraft, but was forced to cut the route in 2013 due to rising fuel costs.

The A350-900ULR first rolled off the assembly at the manufacturer’s facility in Toulouse, France about two months ago.

Airbus currently has 854 firm orders for its A350 aircraft from 45 customers worldwide.

Singapore Airlines was also the launch customer of Boeing’s newest aircraft, the B787-10 Dreamliner, which it took delivery of last month and is set to begin flying to Osaka next month.

Business Traveller was at the unveiling of the new aircraft and the airline’s new regional business class seat product at the end of March.

Meanwhile, Airbus’s new A350-1000 also made its debut earlier this year following its delivery to launch customer Qatar Airways.