January 23, 2020: South African Airways' (SAA) new A350-900 powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines operated its first international flight from OR Tambo International Airport to New York’s John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport.

“This inaugural flight was the first that we plan to introduce on our international routes in the near future. We are excited that our passengers will enjoy the A350s superior features such as a quieter cabin and relaxing in-flight experience including the all-new in-flight entertainment (IFE), extra-legroom seats in economy class and lie-flat beds in Business Class,” said Zuks Ramasia, SAA’s acting CEO.

Ramasia received a gift from Ryan Goodnight, Vice President Customers, Rolls-Royce. The gift was given in recognition of the delivery of the first A350 to SAA. The gift is a bolt certified as a genuine part of the first Trent XWB to fly. This bolt is designed to withstand the forces generated with the engine day in, day out, while the fan spins at up to 3,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). This bolt was one part of the first Trent XWB ever to take to the skies as part of the flying testbed (FTB) programme.

The aircraft, which is environmentally friendly, with improved fuel-efficiency can fly further than any other aircraft in commercial service. It is one of the four new A350-900s that SAA added to its fleet in October 2019. It replaces the Airbus A340-600, which was being used on the route.

“All the A350-900s are equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Since entering service in 2015, the Trent XWB engines have flown more than five million hours, and are now regarded as the world’s most efficient large aero-engines.

“The introduction of the A350s will contribute to our operational efficiencies and cost reduction, and forms part of the ongoing fleet renewal programme.

“For example, through the A350s, we will lower our operational costs, and save on our fuel consumption by 25 percent and also lower our maintenance costs by 40 percent over a five-year period,” said Ramasia.

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