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Qantas to Operate Second ‘Project Sunrise’ Research Flight From London to Sydney Tomorrow

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

Qantas announced Thursday that the second of three ultra-long-haul flights will take place tomorrow. Last month the airline operated the groundbreaking flight from New York to Sydney. Friday’s 'Project Sunrise' flight is from London to Sydney.

Qantas B787 Dreamliner Tail in Special Centenary Livery - Source: Qantas

Today, Qantas announced that their second ‘Project Sunrise’ research flight would take place on Friday with an ultra-long-haul flight from London to Sydney. Building on the research acquired during the New York-Sydney flight, Qantas will add novel changes to the onboard service including ‘supper at breakfast time’ to help passengers adjust to the time zone change. Instead of ferrying three new Boeing 787 Dreamliners empty from Seattle to Australia, Qantas has repurposed the flights to conduct research as part of Project Sunrise. In December, the third research flight will take place repeating the successful New York-Sydney flight conducted last month. In today’s announcement, Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce said,

“We know that travelers want room to move on these direct services, and the exercises we encouraged on the first research flight seemed to work really well. So, we’re definitely looking to incorporate on-board stretching zones and even some simple modifications like overhead handles to encourage low impact exercises.”

Project Sunrise Route Map - Source: Qantas

When Qantas’ new Boeing 787 Dreamliner starts the London-Sydney flight Friday, it will be only the second time the ultra-long-haul route was flown. This first flight took place in 1989 with a Qantas Boeing 747-400 being ferried from London to Sydney. Once again collecting passenger and crew data on Friday's flight will be researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC).

Friday’s Project Sunrise Flight from London to Sydney will carry 50 passengers, giving the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner the range for the 17,800-kilometer 19.5-hour journey. Last month’s research flight shaved about three hours off of the “gate to gate” time of current one-stop New York to Sydney flights. Although Friday’s London-Sydney flight is about 1,500 kilometers further, the overall time is expected to be similar due to prevailing tail winds.

Passengers will board Friday’s flight in London at 6AM. In addition to serving dinner at breakfast, the researchers will encourage passengers to sleep at 10AM London time, to avoid light and reset their body clock to the Sydney time zone. Adding to his previous comment in today's announcement, Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce stated,

“Our Perth to London flight was a huge leap forward and it’s been incredibly popular. 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 if we can make all elements of the business case stack up.”

Both Boeing and Airbus are trying to pitch the B777X and A350, respectively, as aircraft capable of handling the ultra-long-haul routes on a commercial basis. Qantas plans on making a decision on whether the routes make sound business sense by the end of the year, and if the decision is positive, the routes could be launched as early as 2023.

Source: Qantas

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