Qantas’ over 19 hour New York to Sydney test flight touches down

21 Oct 2019 by Seher Asaf
The Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane arrives at Sydney International Airport after flying direct from New York on Sunday

Qantas’ first ultra long-haul research flight from New York to Sydney has landed after more than 19 hours and 16 minutes in the air, setting a record for the world’s longest nonstop commercial passenger flight.

“This is a really significant first for aviation. Hopefully, it’s a preview of a regular service that will speed up how people travel from one side of the globe to the other,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

The New York-Sydney test flight is part of the Australian airline’s Project Sunrise venture, announced last month, aiming to test ways to improve the health and wellbeing of passengers and crew on ultra long-haul flights in an effort to eventually launch long-haul flights between the east coast of Australia (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) and New York and London.

The flight, which landed on October 20, had a total of 49 passengers (mostly Qantas employees along with six Qantas Frequent Flyer volunteer passengers) and crew onboard  a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Inside Qantas' first project sunrise flight

Qantas says a series of experiments were carried out to assess the health and well-being of passengers and crew onboard. The airline added that data from these experiments will be used to help shape the crew rostering and customer service of Qantas’ ultra long-haul flights in future. Tests ranged from monitoring pilot brain waves, melatonin levels and alertness, through to exercise classes for passengers.

“We know ultra long haul flights pose some extra challenges but that’s been true every time technology has allowed us to fly further. The research we’re doing should give us better strategies for improving comfort and wellbeing along the way,” said Joyce.

The airline says cabin lighting and in-flight meals were also adjusted in ways that are expected to help reduce jetlag.

“Night flights usually start with dinner and then lights off. For this flight, we started with lunch and kept the lights on for the first six hours, to match the time of day at our destination,” said Joyce.

A meal served on Qantas' first Project Sunrise flight

Two more research flights are planned as part of Project Sunrise: London to Sydney in November and another New York to Sydney in December.

Qantas says a decision on Project Sunrise is expected by the end of the year. The airline will determine whether it will launch long-haul flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to New York and London.

The longest nonstop commercial flight that is currently offered is Singapore Airlines’s route from Singapore to Newark. The total duration of this flight is about 18 hours and 45 minutes.


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