Qantas flight makes history by touching down in Sydney after flying 19 hours non-stop from New York
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says airline passengers will be able to exercise mid-air if non-stop flights from New York to Sydney become a reality.
- Flight QF7879 travelled non-stop from New York to Sydney in 19 hours and 16 minutes
- It is the first of three flights researching the health of passengers on “ultra” long-haul flight
- If flights are successful, commercial services could start as early as 2022
The Australian airline moved a step closer to realising its ambitions of launching ultra-long-haul travel after the world’s longest commercial flight successfully touched down at Sydney Airport this morning after a flight of just over 19 hours.
Fifty Qantas passengers and crew were fitted with technology devices to test their wellbeing during the flight on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from New York’s John F Kennedy Airport.
The research will be collected in the hopes of minimising jet lag and helping pilots manage their work and rest patterns.
Mr Joyce said this was the first of three test flights, to ensure flying such long distances could be done safely and comfortably.
“This is a really historic moment for Qantas, a really historic moment for Australian aviation and a really historic moment for world aviation,” Mr Joyce said.
“So we need to show that this can be done safely, it can be done with the rest that we have for the crews.”
Mr Joyce, who was on the flight, said there would likely be four classes on the aircraft, including a special area for economy passengers to exercise.
“We were doing that on the aircraft coming in, passengers loved it,” he said, adding that the flight did not feel as long as 19 hours.
Testing of passengers and crew began about one week before the flight and included checks for melatonin levels and measuring brainwave activity via wearable electroencephalograms, Qantas captain Sean Golding said.
“I’m also wearing a light meter, so those tests are conducted over a period of about three weeks, so we are not only looking at what is occurring before the flight, during the flight and the effects of those flights afterwards,” he said.
Mr Golding, who led the four pilots on board, said he considered the 16,200-kilometre flight a success as it was in the air for 19 hours and 16 minutes and landed with “a comfortable” 70 minutes of fuel, even with a stronger-than-predicted headwind.
Qantas is considering introducing the New York to Sydney service from as early as 2022.
A second trial flight will go from New York to Sydney while the last will arrive in Sydney from London.
The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) will help analyse data from the test flights but said “significant caution” was needed before embarking on any commercial versions of the flights.
AIPA president Mark Sedgwick said pilots’ main concerns were about getting enough quality rest while flying such long hours.
“Qantas is proposing to fly some of the longest routes in the world and what we need is a scientific long-term study into the impacts on crew so we can make sure ULR [ultra long-range] flying is as safe as the airline can make it,” he said.
The Sydney Business Chamber’s executive director, Katherine O’Regan, said, if adopted, the new route would be revolutionary for business.
“It will help drive closer ties with companies headquartered in New York and spread Sydney’s reputation as the place to do business, reducing flight time by hours and maximising time on the ground for travellers to our country,” she said.