Australia's National Airlines Qantas On The Quest For The Longest 19-Hour Flight

Australia's National Airlines Qantas On The Quest For The Longest 19-Hour Flight
Two Qantas Airways Airbus A330 aircraft can be seen on the tarmac near the domestic terminal at Sydney Airport in Australia, November 30, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/David Gray)

Come October, Australia's national carrier Qantas is set to start the test flights, called Project Sunrise, for its three very long haul services which will put the airline on record as having the longest non-stop commercial flights.

Project Sunrise's test flights will happen on October, November, and December with a decision made at the end of 2019.

Boeing 787-9s will fly direct out of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne on Australia's east coast en route to London and New York.

Qantas is still deciding on what model of planes it will eventually use for the flights though it said Boeing and Airbus are both pitching.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce noted that flights as long as the ones they're planning "presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and well-being of passengers and crew."

Making sure that each one on board is taken cared of, Qantas teamed up with two top Australian universities.

For the test flights, Qantas Airways would be flying 40 passengers mostly made up of crew members.

The universities' researchers will monitor passengers' food and beverage consumption, inflight entertainment, lighting, physical movement, and sleeping patterns.

The University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre will have the 40 airline onboard staff members wear sensors to find out how much distance affects a person's body clock.

Researchers from Monash University will be in charge of monitoring pilots' and crews' melatonin levels before, during and after flights to find out their alertness level.

The goal of the test flights for customers is minimizing jet lag and making sure they will always look forward to an enjoyable flight.

For the crew, the goal of the test flights is to find out when to promote alertness and maximize rest during their downtime.

Joyce added that their flights will be giving invaluable data that will be used to help shape the cabin's design, inflight crew and service roster patterns and at the same time use the data for their already existing long-haul flights.

Qantas has these flights planned for a while already and was able to settle in on having an area on the plane where passengers can stretch their legs.

The company is targeting the New York-Sydney and London-Sydney routes running by 2022.

The start of Project Sunrise' was announced after the company released its full-year profit report.

It was 17 percent lower compared with their record profit in FY18 (the fiscal year 2017-2018) because of increased fuel costs and non-fuel net expenditure.

However, after raising Qantas' final dividend by 3.0 cents to 13.0 cents and setting into action to buy back 79.7 million shares, Joyce noted that all key parts of the airline's portfolio remain very profitable with enough cash flow for investments and shareholders.

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