Qantas operates 2nd of 3 Project Sunrise research flights, non-stop from London to Sydney

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce (centre) with flight deck crew ©James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Qantas

Qantas, Australia’s national carrier is preparing for its second ultra-long haul research flight, as part of scientific studies into minimising jetlag for passengers and improving crew wellbeing.

The first research flight operated between New York and Sydney non-stop four weeks ago with 49 passengers and crew. It cut around three hours off the typical gate-to-gate travel time of current one-stop flights.

The airline has re-purposed the delivery flights of three brand new 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which would otherwise ferry empty from Seattle to Australia. A third research flight, repeating the New York-Sydney route, will take place in December.

Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre as well as the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) will again travel on the non-stop Dreamliner flight to collect passenger and crew data.

The findings from all three research flights will be used to inform future service and product design, aimed at increasing wellbeing and comfort during travel on long-haul flights – in particular the direct flights Qantas hopes to operate on a commercial basis between the east coast of Australia and London and New York.

The research flight will carry around 50 passengers and crew in order to give the 787-9 the range required for the 17,800 km flight, expected to take around 19 and a half hours.

While the flight is over 1,500 kilometers further than New York to Sydney, the duration is expected to be similar due to prevailing tail winds between London and Sydney.

All carbon emissions from the research flights will be offset. Qantas recently announced an acceleration of its efforts to reduce its broader carbon footprint, including effectively doubling current levels of flight offsetting, capping carbon emissions from 2020 onwards and totally eliminate net emissions by the year 2050.

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