World’s Longest A350 Flight? ‘Merkel One’ Flies Non-Stop To Australia

Recently the German Air Force has been putting its new Airbus A350, registered 10+03, to the test. As part of these tests, the aircraft operated an ultra-long-haul flight from Germany to Australia on Friday. The flight clocked in at 19 hours and 13 minutes, rivaling Qantas’ non-stop London to Sydney service just over a year ago, and likely becoming the longest A350 flight to date.

German Air Force, Airbus A350, Flight Record
This weekend the German Air Force’s first A350 flew non-stop to Canberra. Photo: Luftwaffe via Twitter

The Airbus A350-900 is known for operating the world’s longest regular commercial flight. Singapore Airlines’ trip from New York to Singapore is timed at 18 hours and 40 minutes in its schedule. The German Air Force recently smashed this flight time with its latest test flight.

The flight details

Typically a flight as long as that operated this weekend by the German Air Force would attract much media attention. However, this weekend’s ultra-long-flight has so far flown under the radar, despite cruising at 41,000 feet.

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At 12:21 on Friday, 10+03 departed from Cologne Airport in the west of Germany, according to The aircraft isn’t a stranger to long-haul, having previously flown to Los Angeles non-stop for training. However, this time the aircraft proceeded to fly to the east.

German Air Force, Airbus A350, Flight Record
The 19-hour 13-minute flight could be the longest A350 flight yet. Photo courtesy of

The aircraft flew over Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, The Philippines, and Indonesia before arriving in Australian airspace. While flying abeam Sydney, the aircraft started its descent from 41,000 feet at 17:07 AEDT. Around half an hour later, at 17:34 on November 21st, 10+03 touched down in the Australian capital after 19 hours and 13 minutes in the air. The hop from Cologne to Canberra is 8,930 nautical miles as the crow flies.

The aircraft is taking a slightly more leisurely flight back to Germany. On Sunday, the aircraft flew for around six and a half hours to Papeete, French Polynesia’s capital.  Earlier in the year, the domestic flight record was set twice with flights from Papeete to both of Paris’ major airports.

The aircraft departed Papeete at 10:02 TAHT. At the time of writing, 10+03 was last tracked flying north-east of Scotland. As the flight from Papeete to Paris took 16 hours and 49 minutes with an Airbus A350, one would assume that the trip from Papeete to Cologne won’t take quite as long as the trip down to Canberra.

German Air Force, Airbus A350, Flight Record
The trip was part of the aircraft’s test program before it enters service. Photo: Luftwaffe via Twitter

Why is this A350 operating such long trips?

Globally, travel remains at a standstill. However, as a military aircraft, this A350 isn’t being used for the paying passengers that just aren’t traveling right now. Instead, once fully commissioned, it will be used to ferry German VIPs such as Angela Merkel and the German head of state worldwide. Germany recently welcomed the UK’s equivalent aircraft.

10+03, along with two more A350s, will replace the country’s aging A340 that has been less than reliable as of late. These long-haul flights form part of the air force’s test program for the aircraft before it enters service. It will allow them to iron out any little kinks before VIPs step foot on the aircraft.

Did you notice the aircraft on its mammoth 19-hour flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!