The first non-stop commercial airline flight from New York to Sydney landed after 19 hours 16 minutes in the air. A total of 49 passengers and crew were on the flight, which was used to run a series of experiments to assess health and well-being onboard. Data from these experiments will be used help shape the crew rostering and customer service of Qantas’ ultra long haul flights in future – including Project Sunrise.
Tests ranged from monitoring pilot brain waves, melatonin levels and alertness, through to exercise classes for passengers.
Arriving in Sydney, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “This is a really significant first for aviation. Hopefully, it’s a preview of a regular service that will speed up how people travel from one side of the globe to the other.
“We know ultra long haul flights pose some extra challenges but that’s been true every time technology has allowed us to fly further. The research we’re doing should give us better strategies for improving comfort and wellbeing along the way.”
Qantas’ regular, one-stop New York to Sydney service (QF12) took off three hours before the direct flight but arrived a few minutes ahead of it, meaning its saved a significant amount of total travel time by not having to stop.
Two more research flights are planned as part of the Project Sunrise evaluations – London to Sydney in November and another New York to Sydney in December. Emissions from all research flights will be fully offset.
A decision on Project Sunrise is expected by the end of the year.