Qantas to carry out first survey flight for "Project Sunrise"

Sydney, Australia - On Oct. 20, the Australian flag carrier Qantas completed the longest commercial flight ever with one of its Boeing 787-9s.

Qantas' Dreamliner took off from New York JFK and landed at the Sydney International Airport after a19 hours and 15 minutes (8,700nm) non-stop flight.

The aircraft had been delivered from Boeing's Everett factory and flew to New York before the survey flight to Sydney.

There were six pilots, six cabin crew members, and 37 passengers on board, including reporters, medical personnel, six frequent flyers, and the Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

The passenger number was limited to such a small amount in order to secure that the aircraft was light enough to complete the flight on one tank of fuel.


The plane was loaded with 101 tonnes of jet fuel, which made up almost half the total weight of the plane on takeoff. A Qantas spokesperson said that the carbon footprint of the direct flight would be less than that created by a two-leg flight since more power needed during takeoff.

To ensure the health of both passengers and crew during the flight, medical experts were on board to monitor passenger sleep patterns and food and beverage consumption.

Night flights usually start with dinner and then the lights are turned off. Although it was the night time when flight QF7879 took off from New York JFK, the flight started with lunch and the lights were kept on for the first six hours to prevent passengers from jet lag and match the time of day at the destination.

The flight crew who worked on rotation also wore EEG devices, allowing medical staff to check their brain activities.

We know ultra-long-haul flights pose some extra challenges, but that's been true every time technology has allowed us to fly further,

said chief executive Alan Joyce.

CEO Alan Joyce and crew celebrate the flight after landing at Sydney airport

The survey flight was made as part of the Australian carrier's new study named "Project Sunrise", which aims to connect cities in the eastern part of Australia such as Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York with non-stop flights.

Although Qantas is planning to operate either Airbus A350 or Boeing 777X jets on these routes, three Qantas Dreamliners will be used by the end of this year to gather data for the airline's upcoming ultra-long-haul routes.

Qantas has been operating 17 hours of non-stop flights with its Boeing 787s between Perth and London since 2016. But both New York and London routes to become the longest non-stop flights in the world with around 19 hours of flight duration.

Qantas expects to start operations on these routes until 2023 if it obtains the regulatory approval. But Qantas has to decide the aircraft type that will be used for these flights first.

The airline is in talks with both Boeing and Airbus for the 777X and A350-1000 as the potential candidates.