Today, October 10th, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with only 150 Australians onboard is taking an aerial tourism flight over Australia. The full-day adventure mimics a long-haul international flight, though the flight originates and arrives in Sydney.
The Great Southern Land scenic flight
In the morning on October 10th, a Qantas 787 Dreamliner began its journey across the Australian landscape, providing 150 passengers onboard an iconic view of some of Australia’s iconic destinations with several low-level flybys.
The designers of the flight path were determined to showcase the “unique Australian landscape” without passengers having to worry about border closures. Captain Alex Passerini added that the aircraft would pass over these landmarks at around 4,000 feet– nearly one-tenth of the traditional 35,000 feet that planes fly at.
Captain Passerini stated the following in a press release viewed by Simple Flying:
“We will angle the aircraft so that passengers on both sides get a great view, in particular of Uluru after we were granted special permission for the flyover. It’s going to be a really special day and we are excited to be back in the air again.”
To get as close to a traditional tour experience, the flight will feature two ground-to-air satellite phone calls. On the ground, local experts will discuss first-hand facts as the plane flies over the Whitsundays and Uluru. The call will be broadcast over the aircraft PA.
Qantas announced the seven-hour scenic flight back in September with plans to fly over Uluru, Great Barrier Reef, the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney Harbor, and more. The flight sales were a success, with the “flight to nowhere” selling out in about ten minutes. The success of that flight has led Qantas to consider that it could perform more of these flights.
The Great Southern Land Scenic flight will operate with net-zero emissions, according to Qantas. The airline is offsetting 100% of carbon emissions from the flight.
The actual flight
QF787 can be tracked at Flightradar24.com. At the time of writing, the aircraft was nearing Byron Bay after taking off around 10:45 local time in Sydney. It had already completed a pass around Sydney at around 2,800 feet. No doubt, passengers onboard got a great view of the Sydney Opera House.
Two-year-old VH-ZND is conducting this once-in-a-lifetime flight. The aircraft is painted in a special “Yam Dreaming” livery. According to the carrier, the 787-9’s livery showcases the artwork of Northern Territory artist and senior Anmatyerre woman, Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The design, based on her 1991 painting entitled Yam Dreaming, depicts the culturally significant yam plant and is a staple food source in her home of the region of Utopia, which is northeast of Alice Springs.
The aircraft is in a recognizable livery that makes it an iconic aircraft to perform this flight and would be an absolute treat to avgeeks, passengers, and onlookers alike.
Will Qantas make this a permanent flight?
Flights to nowhere are not necessarily brand new in the industry, but they are not widespread on major airlines. Rather, with border closures and travel restrictions, airlines have offered these flights as a way to get people who want to fly back in the air for a quick flight and to earn some much-needed revenue. Other airlines that have done this include All Nippon Airways using an Airbus A380 and Starlux Airlines.
Whether this becomes permanent, well, remains to be seen. Flights like these could be an excellent way for international tourists who are making a quick trip Down Under to see as many sites as possible without necessarily having to pay thousands of dollars in additional flights, lodging, and meals.
However, Qantas would need to offer a dedicated aircraft for such a flight, and some other lucrative long-haul routes might make more money for the airline than a scenic flight. Still, it is a great thing to imagine.
In the past, Qantas (or chartered Qantas jets) have offered flights to Antarctica. These also operated as scenic routes with some flown mainly so passengers can see the Southern Lights.
Do you want Qantas to operate more of these scenic flights? Let us know in the comments!