Qantas Airways: from New York to Sydney in 19 hours
Monday, October 21, 2019
From Saturday to Sunday, Qantas Airways successfully completed the longest commercial flight in history. Departing from New York (USA), the flight flew, non-stop, to the opposite end of the world, arriving in Sydney (Australia). The Boeing 787 Dreamliner carried only 49 passengers in order to reduce weight, for the aircraft to have the necessary fuel range. Touchdown occurred as planned on Sunday morning after a journey of 16.200 kilometres. The long-haul flight had a duration of 19 hours and 16 minutes.
Why did Qantas operate the longest commercial flight in history?
The flight was used as a test to see how pilots and crew would respond to such a long flight. Fatigue and concentration levels were closely monitored as well as how the passengers coped to jetlag. Specifically, the airline monitored the pilots' brain waves, melatonin levels and alertness. Furthermore, some sets of exercises were arranged for passengers.
Qantas Airways long-haul project
The record-breaking long-haul flight is part of the airline’s so-called Project Sunrise. The goal of the project is to operate non-stop flights from cities along the east coast of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London. The Australian airline has planned two more test flights as part of the project, one will operate from London to Sydney next month and another flight will do so from New York to Sydney later in December.
The vision behind the longest commercial flight and Project Sunrise
The CEO of the Australian airline, Alan Joyce, explained that the information they would gather when operating these long-haul flights would enable them to improve passenger and crew well-being and comfort on other lengthy flights. Even ones that have been operating thus far.
On regular long-haul flights that operate during the night, the cabin crew usually start with dinner and then the lights are turned off. However, the CEO commented that the flight from New York to Sydney “started with lunch and kept the lights on for the first six hours, to match the time of day at our destination”. According to the CEO, this concept was designed to reduce jetlag right from the start of the flight. Additionally, passengers were motivated to do group stretching exercises at regular intervals, which were designed to keep them awake and active.
When can I expect to fly on such a long-haul flight with Qantas?
At the end of the year, Qantas Airways is expected to make a decision regarding the long-haul flight scheme. If it decides to introduce these long-haul flights into commercial every-day passenger travel, the flights should become available starting January 2022.
Increasing demand for long-haul travel amongst all airlines
Ultra-long-haul travel is becoming more and more popular amongst all carriers, especially those specialising in intercontinental flights. As demand for air travel is rapidly increasing and aircraft performance is constantly improving, the aspect of flying for such long durations is becoming more attractive for airlines such as Qantas Airways.
By the year 2037, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the total of annual passengers travelling by aeroplane to almost double, from 4.6 billion to 8.2 billion. Naturally, the demand for long-haul travel will only increase.
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