Final Qantas Project Sunrise Test Flight Departs New York

Qantas’ final Project Sunrise test flight has departed from New York en route to Sydney non-stop. The flight is the final one of a trio of test flights investigating how the body copes with ultra-long-haul flights.

Qantas, Project Sunrise, New York, Sydney
Qantas is operating its final Project Sunrise test flight. Photo: Qantas

The big Qantas story running throughout 2019 has been Project Sunrise. The project sees the Australian flag carrier attempting to connect London and New York to Sydney with non-stop flights. However, recently, the carrier also added that Frankfurt could join the project. While studying the feasibility of the initiative, the airline has operated three special trial flights.

Delayed departure

Despite the special nature of the flight to Sydney, it seems as though the trip didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts. As with all of the Project Sunrise tests, the flight has been designated with the flight number QF7879 as it is being operated by a Boeing 787-9. However, this flight was due to take to the skies at 21:00 in New York. Instead, the aircraft’s departure was delayed until 22:05, over one hour.

At the time of writing, the aircraft had started its transpacific crossing having flown through 12 American states and briefly traversed Canadian airspace. It is currently heading in the direction of Hawaii, having departed just over eight hours ago. estimates that the flight has around 11 hours of flight time left.

Qantas, Project Sunrise, New York, Sydney
The flight is currently flying over the Pacific ocean. Photo:

Brand new aircraft

Rather than taking an aircraft out of service for the test, Qantas has opted to use an aircraft that is yet to enter service. Qantas has a maintenance base at Los Angeles, where the aircraft was delivered from Boeing.

Upon arrival at LAX, the aircraft will have undergone its entry to service checks, before it was ferried to New York yesterday morning. However, the aircraft is not operating a revenue flight. Instead, a small group of passengers will be onboard for the mammoth trip. These will be made up of specially selected passengers, researchers, media, and likely Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas.

End of the test program

This final flight marks the end of the test program for the time being. Indeed, at this point in time, no further test flights have been confirmed. In 2020, the Qantas board will vote on whether to move forward with the project.

Qantas, Project Sunrise, New York, Sydney
Qantas has chosen the Airbus A350-1000 as its aircraft of choice for Project Sunrise. Photo: Airbus via Qantas

The Australian airline has chosen the Airbus A350-1000 as its aircraft for the program. Airbus plans to adapt the aircraft to include an additional fuel tank to give it the range necessary for the mission.

Do you think Project Sunrise will get the go-ahead? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!