Qantas service QF7879, a Boeing 787-9 that arrived in Sydney from London late on Friday morning (around 8pm New York time Thursday evening) after a flight of 19 hours and 19 minutes was the second of three "Project Sunrise" research flights supporting the Australian carrier's plans for non-stop commercial operations from the UK capital and from New York.
The ultra-long-haul flight, part of studies to "reduce jetlag and design optimum crew rest and work patterns," followed an initial non-stop run between New York and Sydney last month that Qantas said can cut about three hours from typical gate-to-gate travel time on current one-stop flights.
The program, which makes use of three 787 delivery flights that would otherwise fly empty from Seattle to Australia, includes a planned second New York-Sydney operation in December. Researchers from University of Sydney Charles Perkins Centre and from Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety, and Productivity travel on the flights to gather passenger and crew data "to inform future service and product design" on long-distance services, in particular, planned Qantas services from Australia's east coast to London and New York.
The operation carried around 50 passengers and crew on the 17,800km (9,610nm) flight, and compared with 17 hours for the recently introduced London-Perth non-stop services. While over 1,500 km (810 nm) farther than New York to Sydney, airline officials said the flight benefits from favorable prevailing tailwinds and so is expected to be a similar flight time.
Carbon emissions from the research flights, which are naturally greater than on "stopping" flights because all the fuel must be "tankered," are being be offset. Qantas is accelerating efforts to reduce its broader carbon footprint by increasing significantly current flight offsetting, capping carbon emissions from 2020, and eliminating net emissions by 2050.
Researchers will analyze flight data, with feedback from the first flight said to suggest that Qantas "interventions and strategies" helped travelers better manage the transition of multiple time zones. For example, this second flight involved passengers eating "supper" at (London) breakfast time to encourage them to sleep in the morning, to help avoid light, and to reset their body clocks to Sydney time.
"The final frontier is New York and London to the east coast of Australia non-stop and we are hopeful of conquering that by 2023," said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. Airbus and Boeing have pitched the A350ULR and 777X respectively, to operate Project Sunrise commercial flights.