Qantas has announced three ultra-long-haul research flights to collect data about passenger and crew health and wellbeing.
The flights form part of Project Sunrise – Qantas’ goal to operate regular, non-stop commercial flights from Australia’s east coast of to London and New York.
The three research flights will be operated by brand new 787-9s on re-routed delivery flights from Boeing. Rather than flying empty from Seattle, the aircraft will simulate two Project Sunrise routes – London and New York to Sydney.
This will represent the first ever flight by a commercial airline direct from New York to Sydney, and only the second time a commercial airline has flown direct from London to Sydney.
Each flight will have a maximum of 40 people, including crew, in order to minimise weight and ensure the necessary fuel range.
The passengers – mostly Qantas employees – will be fitted with wearable technology and take part in specific experiences at varying stages of the roughly 19 hour flights. Scientists and medical experts from the Charles Perkins Centre will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said “flying from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we’re determined to do all the groundwork to get this right.
“No airline has done this kind of dedicated research before and we’ll be using the results to help shape the cabin design, inflight service and crew roster patterns for Project Sunrise. We’ll also be looking at how we can use it to improve our existing long-haul flights,” he added.
Airbus and Boeing have both pitched aircraft (A350 and 777X) to Qantas that are capable of operating Project Sunrise flights with a viable commercial payload. A final decision on Project Sunrise – which depends on aircraft economics, regulatory approvals and industrial agreements – is expected by the end of December 2019.
Watch this space.
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