Singapore Airlines Flight 21

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Singapore Airlines Airbus A340-500

Singapore Airlines Flight 21 was the longest regularly scheduled non-stop flight in the world, from 28 June 2004[1] until it was discontinued on 23 November 2013.[2] It flew from Newark Liberty International Airport to Singapore Changi Airport, covering 9,534 miles (15,343 km) in about 18.5 hours flight time.[3] It was operated by an Airbus A340-500. Flight 21 was scheduled to take off from Newark at 23:00 EDT (11:00 SGT) and land in Singapore at 4:05 SGT (16:05 EDT).[4] Its return flight was Singapore Airlines Flight 22 from Singapore to Newark, which was the second-longest flight in the world, being scheduled to be fifteen minutes shorter due to prevailing high-altitude winds.

In October 2015, Singapore Airlines announced that it plans to relaunch the route to New York (not necessarily using Newark Liberty Airport) in 2018.[5]


The shortest path between Newark and Singapore is a north/south route over Baffin Island, the North Pole, Siberia and China. However, the flight to Newark deviated from the ideal route via the North Pole in order to take advantage of the favorable jet stream tail winds. Hence, the Newark to Singapore route follows a 15,753 km great circle route within 70 nautical miles (130 km) of the Geographic North Pole,[6] while the Singapore to Newark flights traveled via Japan and Alaska. On the leg to Newark, the actual route therefore had an initial north-east heading, rather than straight north. The shortest distance between Newark and Singapore via the North Pole is 15,345 kilometres (9,535 mi).[7] Singapore to Newark via Tokyo is 16,184 kilometres (10,056 mi).[8]

In October 2012, Singapore Airlines announced that it would discontinue its non-stop service to Newark and Los Angeles in 2013. The airline would continue serving Los Angeles via Tokyo-Narita as it had during the period with the non-stop flights, and while SIA no longer flies to Newark (before it launched the nonstop flights it flew to EWR via Amsterdam, the airline would continue to fly to the nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport, with a stop in Frankfurt.[9]

In November 2013, the airline announced that it would cancel flights 21 and 22, and that Airbus would purchase back the Airbus A340-500 used on that route.[10]

On 13 October 2015, Singapore Airlines announced that it had signed an agreement with Airbus to be the launch customer of a new version of the Airbus A350 called the A350-900ULR (for "Ultra Long Range"), which according to the announcement would feature "all-new cabin products which are currently under development."[5] To that effect, the airline intends to convert seven of its current 63 A350 orders to the new version, and would use the new planes to resume non-stop service to Los Angeles and New York from 2018, when the new equipment's deliveries would start. As of October 2015, there is no information available yet on flight numbers, schedule, route, or airport to be used in New York (JFK or Newark). The airline further announced that "[n]on-stop flights between Singapore and additional points in the US are also under consideration."[5]

Aircraft configuration[edit]

The plane used for the Singapore-Newark route was an Airbus A340-500. It had 14 cabin crew and six flight deck officers, each working four-hour shifts.[11]

The flight required 222,000 liters of fuel, 10 times the weight of the passengers. Critics said that while there would be reduced noise pollution due to a stop not being required, the nonstop flight would save little fuel due to the need to use more energy at the beginning of the flight to power its heavy load.[11]

The airline said that this route would save four hours off a one-stop service. However medical experts have expressed concerns of the 18-hour flight, in which passengers would breathe recycled air, and having a greater chance of picking up viral infections such as flu and colds on board. Furthermore, the heart and lungs would come under increased strain from a lower than usual supply of oxygen, with an enhanced risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) among people who fail to exercise frequently on board. The airline had installed special lockers on the aircraft to store the corpses of any passengers that died en route, since the flight's routing over the Pacific Ocean and North Pole meant that there were few if any possible unscheduled stops.[11][12]

Singapore Airlines originally offered an Executive Economy Class on this flight. Seats in this class of travel were more spacious than ordinary Economy Class seats. However, SIA phased out this class of service in favor of 100-seat all-Business Class flights on the non-stop flights between Singapore and Newark or Los Angeles in 2008.[13]