Qantas Completes Its First Ever Project Sunrise Flight

Qantas has successfully crossed another milestone. Its first-ever Project Sunrise flight from New York’s JFK airport to Sydney touched down in the early morning, local time on Sunday, October 20th.

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Qantas has completed its first Project Sunrise research flight from New York to Sydney. Photo: Qantas

This research flight is one step towards Qantas launching its official, commercial Project Sunrise flight.

Qantas celebrated this with a tweet:

The first Project Sunrise flight completed

No commercial passengers were on board the flight. Instead, Qantas flew QF7879 with only a few participants for research on a brand new Boeing 787-9. A long-haul trip like this is quite costly to operate. But, for Qantas, these test flights can offer a fair bit of insight.

Twenty-ish hours in a giant metal tube means a lot of logistics in terms of sorting catering, flight attendant work schedules, and pilot rotations. These test flights can help Qantas research and develop the best plan for such a long flight. Furthermore, this kind of data can help unions and the airline formulate a plan that helps both of them.

Qantas pilots
Qantas will have to work out a plan with pilots and crew in order to start successful commercial Project Sunrise flights. Photo: Qantas

The overarching questions

Qantas needs to figure out the following major questions on such a long flight:

  1. What is the best time plan for meals?
  2. How does the human body do on such long flights?
  3. What is the optimal crew rotation?

Since nonstop flights of this length have never seen extensive commercial service, Qantas does not have much of a precedent to follow. Onboard, crew will need to be prepared for hungry passengers at several time points. Whether it decides to offer three meals or two depends largely on its schedule.

Qantas meal service
Meal services on such a long flight are unprecedented. Photo: Qantas

Moreover, passengers have never had to experience such long nonstop flights. It is well known that remaining motionless for a long period of time onboard a plan can lead to clotting and other potential emergencies. Not to mention, jet lag.

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Qantas will have to look at ways to keep passengers healthy across cabin classes. Photo: Qantas

Working a long-haul service can also be quite stressful. If flight attendants do not approve of a plan for Project Sunrise flights and boycott them, it would not only lead to difficulty for Qantas to operate the flights but also hurt it from a publicity standpoint.

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Qantas will be entering a new age in aviation with Project Sunrise flights. Photo: Qantas


For those eager to see nonstop New York to Sydney flights, this marks a major development. Qantas has lots of work to do before commercial Project Sunrise flights begin.

First and foremost, they have to choose a plane for the route. This was only the first Qantas Project Sunrise research flight to date and others will follow. London and New York are highlighted as two major Project Sunrise destinations. It is unclear, however, if Qantas would want to expand the project to include flights to other destinations like Sydney to Paris.

What do you make of this latest development? Let us know in the comments!