Qantas Non-Stop Flight From New York To Sydney Has Landed
A Qantas flight carrying a load of human guinea pigs on the longest-haul commercial flight ever has finally touched down in Sydney after 19 hours and 16 minutes in the air.
The airline's CEO Alan Joyce hailed the touchdown as a "This is a really historic moment for Qantas, a really historic moment for Australian aviation and a really historic moment for world aviation."
The flight left New York's JFK airport more than 19 hours ago and touched down in Australia at just before 07:30am local time.
On board were 40 members of staff who are being monitored and fitted with devices as part of a bid to understand what the effects of such a monumental flight are.
Qantas confirmed the news with a tweet reading: "Our very first #QantasResearchFlight has arrived at Sydney Airport with a total flight time of 19 hours and 16 minutes."
The project is called 'Project Sunrise' and the aim is to discover whether flights from Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne to London and New York are viable.
As well as wearing data gathering devices, the passengers' sleep patterns and nutritional intake have been measured by the Charles Perkins Centre.
That includes starting the flight with watches set to Sydney time and being kept awake until night-time in Eastern Australia to combat jetlag.
Oh, and because this is a commercial airline, they've also been checking out the impact of lighting, in-flight entertainment, and physical movement on the overall health of passengers.
The pilots are also under the microscope, wearing ECG (electroencephalogram) devices to measure brain activity and help provide data on the optimum working conditions for pilots on such flights.
Joyce added: "This is a really significant first for aviation. Hopefully, it's a preview of a regular service that will speed up how people travel from one side of the globe to the other,"
Their melatonin levels have also been taken at various intervals during and before flight, and they will be afterwards.
The Qantas Boeing 787-9, the new aircraft in use for this 'ultra-long haul' flight is one of the longest flights ever, let alone commercial flights.
Ahead of the journey, Joyce said that the company wanted to learn how to minimise the negative effects of long flights on both passengers and crew.
Joyce said: "Ultra-long-haul flying presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and well-being of passengers and crew. These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them.
"For customers, the key will be minimising jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight. For crew, it's about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximise rest during their down time on these flights.
"Flying non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we're determined to do all the groundwork to get this right.
"No airline has done this kind of dedicated research before and we'll be using the results to help shape the cabin design, in-flight service and crew roster patterns for Project Sunrise. We'll also be looking at how we can use it to improve our existing long-haul flights."
Whatever is learned from this experiment will now be passed onto the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to help them devise regulations for flights of this kind, if they are to go ahead.
Joyce added: "There's plenty of enthusiasm for Sunrise, but it's not a foregone conclusion. This is ultimately a business decision and the economics have to stack up."
The airline has a second trial run, this time from London to Sydney in November.
Featured Image Credit: Qantas