Qantas, which aspires to fly nonstop from Sydney to London
and New York by early next decade, will run three research flights along those
routes between October and December.
The goal of the flights is to gather data about passenger
and crew health during the long flight. Each route is expected to take
approximately 19 hours to fly.
"Flying nonstop from the east coast of Australia to
London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we're
determined to do all the groundwork to get this right," Qantas CEO Allen
Joyce said in a prepared statement. "No airline has done this kind of
dedicated research before, and we'll be using the results to help shape the
cabin design, inflight service and crew roster patterns."
The flights will build on research about sleep strategy that
the carrier has already done on its longest existing city pair, the 17-hour
route between Perth and London. Two of the research flights will depart from
New York, while one will depart from London. Each will carry approximately 40
people, and most will be Qantas employees. Qantas will fly Boeing 787-9
Qantas said flyers in the cabin will be fitted with wearable
technology devices. Scientists and medical experts from the University of
Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre will then monitor sleep patterns, food and
beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to
assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock.
In addition, researchers from Melbourne's Monash University
will work with pilots to record crew melatonin levels before, during and after
the flights. Pilots will wear a device that tracks brain wave patterns and
monitors alertness. The goal, Qantas said, is to establish data to assist in
building the optimum work and rest pattern for pilots operating the ultra-long
No commercial airline has flown a standard passenger service
between London or New York and Australia's east coast. At 11,185 miles,
London-Sydney is widely considered the ultimate challenge in the long-haul
In 2017, Qantas challenged Airbus and Boeing to develop a
jet capable of flying those routes with a viable payload by 2022. The carriers
have pitched versions of the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 777X.
Qantas expects to make a final decision on whether to go forward
with the routes by the end of December.