Qantas will attempt to fly nonstop from New York to Sydney on Friday, a flight of nearly 20 hours.
As Qantas continues to consider nonstop service from Sydney to London and New York, it still has many kinks to work out. Foremost is the question of which aircraft will be used on the new ultra-longhaul routes. As part of its “Project Sunrise” initiative, both Airbus and Boeing have been challenged to create an aircraft that can handle the mission with a full cargo load.
There are also labor issues (will pilots and flight attendants agree to flight of this length?) and health issues (can the human body handle a 20-hour flight in an economy class seat?) to be determined.
While the aircraft issue remains the biggest unresolved question, Qantas will attempt the route on a Boeing 787-9 this week. Friday’s flight will not be a commercial flight. Instead, it will operate under QF7879 and feature only 50 people onboard, including crew.
Scientists and medical researchers in the cabin will turn Qantas’s brand-new Boeing Co. Dreamliner into a high-altitude laboratory. They’ll screen the brains of the pilots for alertness, while monitoring the food, sleep and activity of the few dozen passengers…The aim is to see how humans hold up to the ordeal.
Qantas expects to announce concrete plans, including a new aircraft, by the end of the year…or scrap the idea entirely if deemed unfeasible.
The idea of traveling from London to Sydney and avoiding Asia or the Middle East is intriguing. The idea of flying from New York to Sydney and avoiding the West Coast is equally intriguing. That Qantas is working on fine-tuning the onboard menu and cabin environment suggests it has no worries that Airbus or Boeing will be able to deliver an adequate aircraft for the mission. JFK-SYD is 9,944 miles while LHR-SYD is 10,569 miles.