Royal Thai Air Force airbus sets flight record

A Royal Thai Air Force Airbus A340-500 completed what appears to be the longest flight ever operated by the aircraft. The record-breaking flight took place with much less fanfare than Singapore Airlines’ commercial record in 2018.

The flight from Bangkok to Charlotte, North Carolina, took 18 hours and 14 minutes and covered 14,555 kilometres.

The flight landed on Wednesday, November 16, after an 18-hour flight that crossed the international date line.

Flight RTAF202 departed Don Mueang Airport at 6.10am Wednesday and passed between Taiwan and the Philippines before being spotted to the east of Japan. After disappearing from public radar over the North Pacific, the aircraft was spotted once again crossing the Gulf of Alaska before entering United States airspace in Washington State.

The aircraft touched town at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina after a total flight time of 18 hours and 14 minutes. Due to crossing the international date line, the flight arrived on Wednesday, at 12.25pm. The distance covered, 14,555 kilometres (7,859 nautical miles).

Royal Thai Air Force airbus sets flight record | News by Thaiger
The longest Airbus flight departs Bangkok and arrives in North Carolina six hours’ later

The Airbus in question is the only one operated by the air force. It was delivered to Thai Airways in 2005 and sent to storage in June 2012 before entering service with the air force in August 2016.

The Airbus A340-500 is now quite rare on commercial passenger flights, with the last scheduled operator removing it from the schedule earlier this year.

The previous record was set after a cruise ship full of Australian tourists became stranded off the coast of Uruguay due to a Covid-19 outbreak. The repatriation flight left Carrasco International Airport outside Montevideo and flew straight to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, where it landed 16 hours and nine minutes later, a distance of 12,338 kilometres.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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