Qantas' Boeing Dreamliner to make first ultra long-haul research flight on Friday

16 Oct 2019 by Seher Asaf
Qantas B787

Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will make its first ultra long-haul research flight from New York to Sydney on Friday October 18.

The Australian airline’s “Project Sunrise” venture, announced last month, aims to test ways to improve the health and wellbeing of passengers and crew on ultra long-haul flights.

The 19-hour flight from New York to Sydney could mark the world’s first non-stop flight between Sydney and New York operated by a commercial airline. No airline has ever completed this route without stopping.

High-altitude laboratory 

Qantas says each of the Project Sunrise flights will have about 40 passengers, including crew. People in the passenger cabin – mostly Qantas employees – will be fitted with wearable technology devices and take part in specific experiences at varying stages of the flights. Scientists and medical experts will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock.

Qantas' Capt. Lisa Norman and CEO Alan Joyce

The airline also says researchers from Monash University will work with pilots  to record crew melatonin levels before, during and after the flights. Pilots will wear an EEG (electroencephalogram) device that tracks brain wave patterns and monitors alertness.

More research flights scheduled for this year

Qantas will operate a total of three ultra long-haul research flights as part of Project Sunrise. The three flights, which will take place in October, November and December, will use new Boeing 787-9s and re-route their planned delivery flights. Instead of flying empty from Seattle to Australia, the aircraft will simulate two Project Sunrise routes. The second research flight will fly from London to Sydney and the third one from New York to Sydney again.

Qantas to operate non-stop research flights from Sydney to London and New York

Currently, the world’s longest commercial flight is Singapore Airlines’ daily Singapore-New York Newark service. Business Traveller reviewed this ultra long-range flight in May this year.

Would you take an almost 19-hour flight from New York and London to Sydney? Please let us know in the comments below.

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