How Heavier Finnair Flights Could Lighten the Financial Load

Finnair has modified ten of its flagship A350s to carry more customers and cargo as it continues to increase capacity across its popular Asian routes

Finnair has modified ten of its flagship A350s to carry more customers and cargo as it continues to increase capacity across its popular Asian routes.

The Finnish carrier has worked with Airbus to increase the maximum take-off weight for a specially selected number of its state-of-the-art aircraft as demand for flights to and from Asia has risen.

Modifications made involve minor changes and updates to aircraft’s software and placards and manuals in cooperation with aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

The Nordic airline made the changes to aircraft which regularly serve Seoul and Tokyo, two of the carrier’s longer intercontinental routes.

Each route has been made longer following the closure of Russian airspace which has forced Finnair to replan its flights and detour around Russia, consuming more fuel than used previously.

The normally lighter take-off weight had limited the number of customers and the amount of cargo each aircraft could carry, given the extended flight times.

But now after the modifications each aircraft can carry more customers and cargo – and importantly more fuel to fly the longer flight times between Finland and South Korea and Japan – as well as increasing the economic efficiency of each flight.

These modifications form part of Finnair’s strategy to restore profitability and increase payloads, in spite of airspace closures and increased flight times.

Leena Niemi, Finnair Compliance Manager for Technical Operation, said:

“Usually we do everything we can to make our aircraft lighter, but for our flights to Tokyo and Seoul we’ve increased their maximum take-off weight to fly around Russia and meet the demand for increased customers, cargo and kerosene.

“We worked with Airbus to make the modifications to ten of our A350s to increase their maximum take-off weight while ensuring the safety and security of our aircraft and customers remained our number one priority.

“In addition, the weight and balance data for the modified aircraft have been updated, the noise certificates of the aircraft have been renewed, and the aircraft maintenance program and life limits of the main landing gear parts have been updated.”

Before, the maximum take-off weight of Finnair’s A350 fleet was 268 tonnes. Now the maximum take-off weight for five aircraft has been increased to 275 tonnes, and the remaining five to 280 tonnes.

The maximum take-off weight increase enables more customers and cargo to be carried, with the total capacity expected to be increased by up to eight tonnes, depending on the aircraft’s respective maximum take-off weight, route as well as flight times conditions.

The plane and fuel together make up most of an aircraft’s weight, followed by customers, with a full plane weighing approximately 24,000kg. Checked-in bags typically weigh an additional 5,500kg, with cargo adding an extra 15,000kg.

Aircraft software compensates for the centre of gravity change and maintains the same handling characteristics, meaning that flying the aircraft does not change.

Each aircraft’s new maximum take-off weight is taken into account by experts at Finnair’s daily flight operations in their Helsinki hub.

The modifications were completed during the two first weeks in January, and operation with the new maximum take-off weight began on January 18th.