The world is getting excited for Project Sunrise, waiting to see which aircraft Qantas is going to pick. However, for those that are getting impatient, the Australian flag carrier is going to start preparing for its mammoth routes later this year.
Project Sunrise will see Qantas offering direct flights from Sydney to both London and New York. The huge undertaking means that Qanats will eclipse the current longest flight between Singapore and New York. Qantas’ longest flight is currently the non-stop from London Heathrow to Perth. This flight takes 16-hours and 45-minutes.
Testing the principle
Qantas is due to test the principle of Project Sunrise by the end of the year. This will involve the carrier flying non-stop between London and Sydney and New York and Sydney. You may think “this isn’t possible” and with a regularly scheduled flight, you’d be right. However, Qantas has some tricks up its sleeves.
The Australian carrier has actually flown non-stop between London and Sydney using an almost empty 747 full to the brim with fuel. The carrier will employ similar tactics when testing its direct ultra-long-haul flights.
We’re embarking on three research flights to help plan how we care for passengers & crew on future long-haul flights. New #787Dreamliners will fly non-stop flights from #NYC & #London to #Sydney, fully carbon-offset with only 40 people onboard. Read more: https://t.co/OtddNYWQMD pic.twitter.com/JDzHYegkzU
— Qantas (@Qantas) August 21, 2019
The airline will be using empty Boeing 787 aircraft being delivered from Seattle. Instead of flying direct to Sydney, the aircraft will fly to either London or New York. Two test flights will operate from New York, with one operating from London. The distance from New York to Sydney is 9,950 miles, compared to 10,573 from London. The three flights will operate in October, November, and December.
Each flight will have a maximum of 40 people on board, with as little luggage and catering as possible. As a result, by reducing the weight of the aircraft, the carrier will be able to extend its range. Some of those on board will be researchers from Monash University. They will take readings to inform both Qantas and the CASA of the effects of long flights in the human body.
What’s next for Project Sunrise?
As we mentioned, the Boeing 787s being used for the test will be almost empty in order to increase range. There are currently no aircraft that match Qantas’ needs for the route. As such, the carrier has invited both Airbus and Boeing to propose aircraft suitable for the scheme.
We previously reported that Airbus could be considering building an ultra-long-range version of the Airbus A350-1000. Additionally, Boeing has pushed back the timeline of the Boeing 777-8 program. It was expected that Boeing would present the Boeing 777-8 to Qantas for the project.
Qantas will be selecting an aircraft for its Project Sunrise initiative by the end of the calendar year. While Airbus appears to be the favorite for the time being, it is impossible to predict which manufacturer the airline will choose. The aircraft will need to comfortably house passengers for the 19-hour flight time envisioned by Qantas.
Would you want to fly non-stop from Sydney to London or New York? Let us know in the comments.