With air travel projected to witness a substantial rise in footfall over the forthcoming years, several aviation companies are increasingly working towards introducing longer, direct commercial flights to make air travel more efficient and feasible for the growing passenger demographic.
Qantas Airways Limited, the renowned Australian flag carrier and the worlds’ third oldest airline, reportedly announced the completion of the world’s longest commercial flight starting from New York City and ended in Sydney.
The Boeing 787-9 flight carrying 49 passengers on board took 19 hours and 16 minutes to complete the distance between New York and Sydney and covered a total distance of 16,200 kilometers. Reports cite, till date, there is no commercial aircraft which has the capacity to fly over such a long distance with a full cargo and passenger load on board.
The 16 hour flight was also part of a project that researches the effects of ultralong flights on humans. The study also measured brain waves, overall alertness and melatonin levels of the pilots, while the passengers helped measure the effectiveness of anti-jetlag measures such as changes to meals and cabin lighting. Additionally, travelers also participated in various exercises and activities to keep their bodies spry.
The 19 hour flight comes under Project Sunrise, Qantas Airlines’ larger effort to research human health over long haul trips. There are two more flights scheduled under Project Sunrise. A flight from London to Sydney would be commencing in November, while a repeat flight from New York to Sydney is due in December. A final decision over this initiative is anticipated by the end of 2019.
Alan Joyce, Chief Executive Officer at Qantas and one of the passengers who was present on the flight stated that the flight is a historic moment for the company as well as world aviation.
Joyce added that this flight is the first of the three test flights that are going to come up with recommendations on how the company manages pilot fatigue and how it actually manages jet lag in passengers.
Joyce further stated that after spending 19 hours on the flight, the company believes that it has got it right and that it felt like they were on a flight that was very much shorter than 19 hours.
However, the company had to put certain limitations over the passenger count to save fuel. The Boeing 787-9 has the capacity of 280 passengers, however the Project Sunrise flight only had 49 passengers on board.