Australia's flag carrier Qantas finished its record nonstop test flight from New York to Sydney on Sunday, Oct 20 and the journey lasted for 20 hours and 16 minutes. The new record surpasses Singapore Airlines' flights 21 and 22 between Singapore and New York lasting for 18 hours. The experimental flight was undertaken to study how it would impact pilots, crew and passengers.
The Qantas Flight 7879 on a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 50 passengers and crew on board touched down in Sydney on Sunday morning after a 16,200-km journey. It took off with maximum fuel, 50 passengers with restricted baggage but without any cargo. Qantas has named its endeavor "Project Sunrise" after the airline's historic 'Double Sunrise' endurance flights during the Second World War, which remained airborne long enough to see two sunrises.
"This is a really historic moment for Qantas, a really historic moment for Australian aviation and a really historic moment for world aviation," said Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce, who took the longest commercial flight.
Besides gathering data, a team of researchers monitored lighting, activity, sleep and consumption patterns of passengers, and crew melatonin levels. The brain wave patterns of pilots was also recorded for analysis for future long-haul flights, said Qantas in a statement.
The data will be used to study health and wellness, minimize jet lag and identify optimum crew rest and work hours and also shared with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority to help the regulatory body to issue rules on ultra-long-haul flights of over 20 hours in the future.
Owing to rapid demand for long-haul flights, carriers are keen to launch long-haul flights preferably from their city of origin to the final destination, without stopovers which increase cost of the flight. Since the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the worldwide annual passenger traffic to grow from $4.6 billion in 2019 to nearly double to $8.2 billion by 2037, the long-haul flights are likely to be experimented by more national carriers.
"The flight was very successful from two components - the first one was research. Also the feat of distance - that flight last night was 16,200km. We were airborne for 19 hours and 16 minutes, and we landed here in Sydney with a comfortable 70 minutes of fuel," said Qantas Captain Sean Golding.
The Qantas is also planning to undertake another nonstop flight from London to Sydney soon and decide whether to introduce long-haul flights or not by the end of this year. The real flights will start three years later. For now, Guinness World Records will be busy to update its records.