Australian full-service airline Qantas will operate its first Project Sunrise test flight from New York to Sydney on Friday, October 18th using a brand new Boeing 787-9. The airline hopes that by running a series of ultra-long test flights, it will give them insight into the physical and emotional impact long-haul flights have on passengers.
The non-stop New York to Sydney flight will be a first for any airline, with nobody ever flying the route without a stop along the way. The nearly 20-hour long flight is also set to become the record holder of the world’s longest flight.
The Qantas 787-9 will become a high-altitude laboratory
More than just an exercise in endurance, passengers aboard the specially fitted out aircraft will include medical researchers and scientists that plan to turn the brand new 787-9 Dreamliner into a flying laboratory.
Besides the pilots and crew, there will be a few dozen invited passengers made up of Qantas employees.
One of the tests will be to monitor the pilot’s brain for alertness and to see what effects different foods and sleep activities will have on the passengers. Tests will also include lighting, physical movement, and inflight entertainment.
Basically, everything is designed to monitor how humans can cope on such a long flight and how it affects their body clock.
Qantas will oporate three Project Sunrise flights
The first New York to Sydney flight is just one of three flights spread over October, November, and December that will operate as Project Sunrise flights.
Instead of delivering Qantas’s new 787-9 Dreamliner’s from Seattle empty, the Project Sunrise test flights will emulate the commercial flights that the Australian flag carrier hopes to start between the east coast of Australia to London and New York.
Each of the three specially fitted out aircraft will have no more than 40 people on board, including pilots and crew, to minimize weight and extend the aircraft’s range.
In a press release issued by the airline, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said:
“Ultra-long haul flying presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and wellbeing of passengers and crew. These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them.
“For customers, the key will be minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight. For the crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during their downtime on these flights.
“Flying non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we’re determined to do all the groundwork to get this right.
“No airline has done this kind of dedicated research before and we’ll be using the results to help shape the cabin design, inflight service and crew roster patterns for Project Sunrise. We’ll also be looking at how we can use it to improve our existing long-haul flights,” added Mr. Joyce.
Non-stop flights between Sydney and New York need to make a profit for Qantas
While the idea of a long-haul flight between Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to New York or London may be appealing rather than having to make a stopover, ultimately the numbers will have to add up for Qantas in order for them to make it work.
What do you think of a nearly 20-hour-long flight, is it something you would like to take or would you prefer a stopover on the way? Please let us know what you think in the comments.