Qantas lands groundbreaking flight

 

After almost 20 hours in the air, Qantas has completed the unthinkable and touched down in Sydney after departing London on a staggering 17,800km journey.

Australia's national carrier successfully landed its second ultra-long haul research flight as part of Project Sunrise, which is studying ways to combat jet lag for those on-board.

The flight arrived in Sydney about 12.30pm local time after a marathon 19-and-a-half hour flight from London carrying just 52 passengers and crew.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce with cabin crew ahead of the London to Sydney flight. Picture: Hollie Adams/News Corp Australia
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce with cabin crew ahead of the London to Sydney flight. Picture: Hollie Adams/News Corp Australia

It is the second test flight in a three-part series for Qantas, which connected New York and Sydney in a non-stop trial flight last month.

It was the second time in history the route has been flown by a commercial airline, with the first time being in 1989.

The London-Sydney flight is actually 1500km further than New York to Sydney, but is shorter due to prevailing tailwinds.

Captain Sean Golding (left) and first officer Jeremy Sutherland about to fly to Australia on October 18, 2019 on the flight from New York to Sydney. Picture: James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Qantas.
Captain Sean Golding (left) and first officer Jeremy Sutherland about to fly to Australia on October 18, 2019 on the flight from New York to Sydney. Picture: James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Qantas.

 

Adjustments will also be made to the in-flight menu. Picture: Qantas
Adjustments will also be made to the in-flight menu. Picture: Qantas

Ahead of the flight, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce explained that to make the non-stop journeys a reality within the next few years, the airline is looking at ways to redesign cabins and improve comfort to make the long stretches in the sky more manageable.

"We know that travellers want room to move on these direct flights, and the exercises we encouraged on the first research flight seemed to work really well," he said.

"So, we're definitely looking to incorporate on-board stretching zones and even some simple modifications like overhead handles to encourage low impact exercises."

Passengers boarded at 6am London time and were offered high GI supper options like a steak sandwich or chicken broth with macaroni, followed by a milk-based panna cotta dessert.

Salmon salad is also on offer – but only for business class. Picture: Qantas
Salmon salad is also on offer – but only for business class. Picture: Qantas

 

 

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said handles could even be included to get some chin ups in on flights. Picture: Renee Nowytarger / The Australian
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said handles could even be included to get some chin ups in on flights. Picture: Renee Nowytarger / The Australian

The Qantas boss also explained that the non-stop Perth to London flight, which launched last March, had boosted confidence in the proposed longer journeys.

"It had the highest customer satisfaction rating after a year of any route on our network, and it's been the most successful launch of a new route," he said.

Since then, 250,000 people have already taken the 17-hour route between Australia's west coast and the UK capital.

The impact of the lengthy trip on the Qantas crew was also under the microscope on Friday's flight.

Pilots wore an EEG (electroencephalogram) device to track brain wave patterns, while three Go-Pro cameras were put in the cockpit to monitor alertness.

A final decision on whether the ultra-long haul flights will become a commercial reality is expected by the end of the year, with the service potentially launching by 2022.

The project has been named Sunrise, after Qantas' "double sunrise" endurance flights during WWII which saw two sunrises while in the air.

Alan Joyce and another 50 people were on the first flight from New York to Sydney. Picture: by James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Qantas.
Alan Joyce and another 50 people were on the first flight from New York to Sydney. Picture: by James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Qantas.


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