Qantas to test non-stop flights to London and NY

Daniel Fowler
August 23, 2019

The trips are expected to take approximately 19 hours, depending on weather conditions - or about 15 minutes longer than the flights Singapore Airlines restarted a year ago between Singapore and Newark, N.J.

Instead of going direct, two aircraft will be flown to NY and one to London, after which they will fly nonstop to Sydney, Australia, to simulate the 19-plus-hour routes that Qantas is hoping to open under the title Project Sunrise.

Qantas has been chasing these routes for the past two years; Joyce challenged aircraft manufacturers in 2017 to produce a plane that could make the trips.

Those in the cabin, who will be mostly Qantas employees, will be fitted with wearable technology devices and take part in specific experiences at various stages of the approximately 19-hour flights.

The flights will run on Boeing 787-9s. Sign me up! I have seven new books, three new podcasts, and a new season of Succession to catch up on.

The test will comprise three flights - one apiece in October, November and December - using new Boeing 787-9 aircraft that would have otherwise flown empty from Seattle to Australia during their delivery.

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Scientists and medical experts will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess the impact on health, wellbeing, and body clock. Instead of flying empty from Seattle to Australia, the aircraft will simulate two Project Sunrise routes - London and NY to Sydney. The airline is going to be testing a direct flight from NY to Sydney, Australia.

As part of the experiment, dubbed Project Sunrise, the pilots will also wear an electroencephalogram that tracks brain activity and alertness. Quantas will offer direct flights from London to Sydney from 2022, based on current plans.

If the carrier determines the long haul isn't too much, it could begin operating routes by 2022 between Sydney and the US and British cities, which have always been key worldwide gateways for the airline industry.

A Qantas spokesman said the airline had made a decision to hire long-haul cabin crew because of a sustained improvement in the worldwide business in recent months. "The key will be minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight". For crew, it's about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximise rest during their down time on these flights.

Last year, Qantas began a 17-hour non-stop service from Perth to London, while Qatar runs a 17.5-hour service between Auckland and Doha.

Mr Joyce said the airline was seeing weakness in the price-sensitive domestic leisure market served by budget carrier Jetstar, but premium leisure demand and corporate demand remained steady.

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