Published: Sat, August 24, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Qantas to test 'ultra long-haul' Sydney to NY, London flights

Qantas to test 'ultra long-haul' Sydney to NY, London flights

The payload of 40 passengers and crew, a lot of them employees, will undergo a host of medical checks and assessments.

The airline has been evaluating launching nonstop flights from Australia's east coast to London, New York and elsewhere with either Airbus A350s or Boeing 777-X equipment.

Qantas pilots will collect the Boeing 787-9s from Boeing's factory in Seattle, where they will be flown to their starting points of NY for two of the flights and London for one flight.

Qantas will operate three non-stop "research flights" from London and NY to Sydney to help it weigh up the viability of adding the ultra-long haul routes to its network.

According to the airline, "s$3 cientists and medical experts from the Charles Perkins Centre will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess impact on health, wellbeing and body clock". The flights will make use of planned deliveries of three new Boeing 787-9s, which would typically be flown empty from Boeing's facility in Seattle, Washington, to Australia.

You can't do that last one yet, but Qantas Airways said it will test direct flights from NYC and London to our friends down under this fall. That's why. Improvements in fuel efficiency have made ultra-long flights technically possible, but passenger and crew endurance needs some work.

Nevertheless, he said the airline was "confident" about the year ahead due in large part to being in a "strong financial position".

If the 19-hour flight becomes a reality, it's likely to cost travelers more.

The test flights will not be open to regular passengers. Pilots will wear an EEG (electroencephalogram) device that tracks brain wave patterns and monitors alertness. Singapore Airlines operates the current world's longest flight, between Singapore and Newark, a flight it had previously operated until 2013.

If launched, the services would be the longest direct flights in the world.

"For customers, the key will be minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight". Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce likes to describe the services as aviation's final frontier. "For crew, it's about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during their down time on these flights".

"The things we learn on these flights will be invaluable", Joyce said on a call Thursday.

Qantas shares ended the day up almost 5% at one stage yesterday as the market concluded the airline's 2018-19 result wasn't as bad as a 17% slide in net earnings might say.

'No commercial airline has done these kind of experiments before, ' he said.

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