The Australian airline Quantas tested a long-haul nonstop 19-hour flight from New York to Sydney. It took off on Friday 18th October and landed at 8am Sunday 20th October completing a route that no airline has been able to do without stopping.
Certainly airplanes and airlines have the technical knowhow to achieve better fuel efficiency, longer ranges, and computer-aided logistical planning. Airplane manufacturers Airbus and Boeing are in the throes of developing planes for this purpose.
However, the company wanted to find out whether or not human beings also have the staying power and stamina to tolerate so many hours in the air without a break.
During this 10,000 mile journey, nicknamed “Project Sunrise”, data was collected find out how to keep passengers comfortable and pilots and cabin crew rested and alert during an epic journey such as this.
This was not a commercial flight and those on board included the 40-member crew, Qantas employees and two scientists from Australian universities. During the 19 hours in the air, passengers were fitted with devices that monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock.
The pilots were given a device to monitor their alertness and brain waves. The impact of jet lag was also going to be scrutinized.
Qantas limited the weight on board and also arranged for sufficient fuel so that it could cover the journey without refuelling.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the flights gave medical experts the chance to do real-time research that will translate into health and wellbeing benefits.
Flying non-stop 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.
If all goes well Qantas hopes to launch the route — and a direct between Sydney and London — by 2022. The latter route would be about 500 miles longer, adding up to an hour of flight time.
The flight feat broke the the longest flight record held by Singapore Airlines who operate the non-stop commercial flight which travelled around 18 hours from Singapore to New York.
The airline says that carbon emissions from the flights were fully offset.