Qantas has initiated “Project Sunrise” to test the aircraft, crew and passenger’s well-being on the world’s longest flight, from October through December with the first test flight completing successfully. Qantas is gearing up to fly passengers from Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) to the US (New York) and England (London) using the A350-1000. The first test flight flew a total of 19 hours and 16 minutes—the maximum amount that the A350-1000 is designed to fly non-stop is 20 hours.
The testers aboard the flight are almost all employees of Qantas who wear special technology to track their moves, how often and how much they eat and drink, use of entertainment and sleeping patterns. The results will help Qantas adjust the crew’s 20-hour schedule while flying by identifying the best time to work and sleep. Additionally, Project Sunrise will help the airline make the right adjustments for passengers so that they can be comfortable throughout the entire flight.
The A350-1000 will be able to hold a maximum of 300 passengers across four different cabins—economy, premium economy, business class and first class. In order to help passengers switch between time zones and help beat jet lag, the cabin will alter the lighting and change meals onboard. Unfortunately, the A350-1000 will not be equipped with any special rooms for the crew or lounge areas for passengers in the cargo space. However, the aircraft will feature an area where travelers can stretch out using helpful videos and refuel with drinks and snacks.
The A350-1000 aircraft used for Project Sunrise is more advanced than the upcoming Boeing 777x. It’s lighter and can take off with 45 tonnes less weight than any similar airplane, allowing the airline to save on fuel costs. In two years, there will be another version of the A350-1000 that can travel a bit further and carry 75 more travelers.
Qantas has never flown between Australia and New York so this will be the first for the airline in terms of longest non-stop routes. The furthest Qantas flew non-stop was between Sydney and London, which happened thirty years ago. It will be interesting to see how passengers and crew members rate the entire experience, and if it’s acceptable for their mental and physical well-being.
How long was the longest non-stop flight you were on? And, would you be ready to take on these (up to) 20-hour flights?