A Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER has broken the polar circumnavigation of the Earth record, accomplishing the flight in 46 hours, 39 minutes, and 38 seconds. Scheduled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission this month, the flight departed NASA’s Cape Canaveral facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Tuesday at 9:32 a.m.—the same time as the moon mission launch a half-century earlier—and landed there this morning at 8:12 a.m., shaving 5 hours, 51 minutes, and 26 seconds off the previous speed record set in 2008.
The ultra-long-range twinjet (of which Qatar Executive is the world’s largest operator with six) accomplished the 40,172-km (21,691-nm) mission dubbed “One More Orbit” in four legs: Florida to Astana, Kazakhstan; Astana to Mauritius; Mauritius to Punta Arenas, Chile; and Chile to Florida, refueling at each stop.
“Qatar Executive, together with the One More Orbit team has made history,” said Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker, who was on hand to greet the arriving business jet, noting many people behind the scenes worked tirelessly to make the record attempt a success. “A mission like this takes a huge amount of planning as we need to factor in the flight paths, fuel stops, potential weather conditions and make plans for all possibilities.” The record flight, a first for Qatar Executive will be detailed in an upcoming documentary.
“We did this during the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the Apollo moon landing and the 500th anniversary of man first circling the planet,” said Hamish Harding, chairman of Action Aviation and the mission’s director, as well as one of its pilots. “It is our way of paying tribute to the past, present, and future of space exploration.”