Qantas hails 'historic' moment after Dreamliner completes 19-hour non-stop flight
Qantas has completed a historic non-stop test flight from New York to Sydney, researching the potential impacts on pilots, crew and passengers of what would be the world’s longest commercial airplane journey.
Carrying 50 passengers and crew, QF7879 on a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner touched down in Sydney on Sunday morning after a 16,200-kilometre (10,066-mile) journey lasting 19 hours and 16 minutes.
Qantas chief executive officer, Alan Joyce, who took the flight, said after landing: “This is a really historic moment for Qantas, a really historic moment for Australian aviation and a really historic moment for world aviation.”
With demand for air travel rapidly growing and aircraft performance improving, carriers are increasingly looking into ultra-long-haul travel. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the worldwide number of annual passengers to grow from 4.6 billion this year to 8.2 billion by 2037.
At this point in time, no commercial aircraft could complete the New York-to-Sydney marathon with a full load. To give the plane the needed range, the Qantas flight took off with maximum fuel, only a few passengers, restricted baggage and no cargo.
The goal was to gather data, with a team of researchers monitoring, among other things, lighting, activity, the sleep and consumption patterns of passengers, and crew melatonin levels. They also tracked the brain waves of pilots, who were equipped for the flight with brain monitoring devices.
The aim of the research was, Qantas said in a statement, to increase health and wellness, minimise jet lag and identify optimum crew rest and work periods.
“The flight was very successful from two components,” Qanta captain Sean Golding said. “The first one was research. And also the feat of distance – that flight last night was 16,200 kilometres. We were airborne for 19 hours and 16 minutes, and we landed here in Sydney with a comfortable 70 minutes of fuel.”
The airline also plans to test a non-stop flight from London to Sydney and expects to make a decision by the end of the year whether to start the routes, which would commence in 2022 or 2023.