Finnish carrier and Oneworld alliance member Finnair announced that it has modified 10 of its 17 Airbus A350-900s to carry more customers and cargo. What did the carrier do to achieve such an increase in capacity.
According to Finnair, the modifications were carried out in cooperation with Airbus. The main task was to safely increase the maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft. The reason for the change, according to the airline, — meet the growing demand for flights to Asia.
Apparently, no “physical” no changes were made to the design of the liners. “The modifications made include a minor software update for the aircraft in collaboration with aircraft manufacturer Airbus.”
The new software compensates for the change in the center of gravity while maintaining the “native” control characteristics. Finnair's A350s had an initial maximum takeoff weight of 268 tonnes. Taking into account the latest adjustments, the carrying capacity of five aircraft was increased to 275 tons, and the rest — up to 280 tons.
The airline reports that major changes have been made to aircraft that fly to Seoul and Tokyo — the carrier's two longest intercontinental routes.
So why are these adjustments being made only now, that is, a few years after the majority of A350s appeared in the Finnair fleet?
As the airline explains, “almost every route had to be lengthened after the closure of Russian airspace. This forced Finnair to reschedule its flights and make a detour around Russia, consuming more fuel than before.
Indeed, the impossibility of flying along the “Siberian corridor” leads to an increase in travel time by several hours. For example, flight AY41 from Helsinki to Seoul used to take about eight hours. Now, when you have to bypass Russian airspace, the flight time is from 11 to 12 hours.
Before the modification, the airline management had no choice but to artificially reduce the takeoff weight, limiting the number of passengers and cargo, taking into account the increased flight time . Now each aircraft is able to carry more people and cargo and, most importantly, to take more fuel for flights over long distances.
In addition, the latest changes increase the cost-effectiveness of each flight, as they allow you to increase the payload. While the overall fuel consumption naturally increases due to the extra weight, it is lower per passenger and cargo.
According to Finnish media, modified A350s are already flying. Some aircraft were ready during the first two weeks of the new year and resumed flights on 18 January.