Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000. Photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific has begun flying the longest nonstop route in its global network between Washington D.C. and Hong Kong using the first Airbus A350-1000 that has entered service within its fleet. Clocking in at 8,153 miles, it is now the 12th longest commercial airline route in the world, enabled by the technologies and operational performance of the A350-1000.
“I flew it last night. We were quite quick — it was 15 hours, sometimes it will be 16 hours,” Rupert Hogg, CEO of Cathay Pacific, said during a press conference held at Washington Dulles International Airport to celebrate the new service.
The Hong Kong-based carrier first started flying the A350-1000 in February 2018. There are currently five of the longest variant of the A350 family within Cathay’s in-service fleet. Hogg did not disclose official dispatch reliability numbers. However, he did say the reliability is “very high” and where Cathay expects it to be at this point.
Hogg said Cathay has a total of 48 A350s on order, including 20 within of the -1000s and 28 of the -900 variants. Cathay’s twin-aisle A350-1000 features a three class configuration with a total of 330 seats. The airline’s chief executive said the company's goal is to start flying daily service between Washington D.C. and Hong Kong.
Cathay flies between the two destinations four times per week.
The A350-1000 flying between Dulles and Hong Kong International also features satellite-based internet connectivity.
“People are quite used to Wi-Fi on board an aircraft in the United States domestically, that Wi-Fi is typically received from the ground. To have great Wi-Fi services across the Pacific, you have to transmit from satellites, which is what we’re doing,” said Hogg.
The airline’s pilots are also “always connected.” Hogg said the airline ensures its pilots use a connection totally separate from passengers.
“Our pilots are always connected, but there is a firewall between [the pilots and the passengers]. We transmit maintenance information in advance of the aircraft landing as well,” said Hogg.
According to a statement from a representative for Airbus, the A350-1000 and A350-900 share a 95% commonality in parts numbers and the same type rating as well. The aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.
Airbus also confirmed that Cathay Pacific is not currently using its Skywise platform for aircraft health monitoring on its A350-1000.
The airline has the option of taking advantage of the new ARINC GLOBALink A350 Media Independent Aircraft Messaging (MIAM) on the aircraft, which has been standard on the A350 since the -900’s entry into service. MIAM allows airlines to send large aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) and internet protocol (IP) MIAM messages over all available A350 communications links.
Hogg could not confirm whether Cathay was using the MIAM service.