Qantas To Send Human Guinea Pigs On Direct Flight From New York To Sydney
An airline will this week send dozens of human guinea pigs on one of the longest flights of all time.
On Friday, Qantas' new Boeing 787-9 will take off on a 19-hour direct flight from New York to Sydney - the first time a commercial flight has ever made the journey.
But rather than customers making the 'ultra long-haul' trip, it will be 40 members of staff. The airline has said the trip's carbon footprint will be completely offset.
It is part of 'Project Sunrise', which will gather data about the effects flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to New York and London could potentially have on passengers.
To track the progress, each person on board will be fitted with devices that will be monitored over the course of the trip.
Specialist from the Charles Perkins Centre will track passengers' sleep patterns and their nutritional intake, as well as analysing the impact of lighting, in-flight entertainment and physical movement on their health.
Researchers from Monash University will also be working with pilots to monitor the melatonin levels of the crew before, during and after the flights. They will wear an EEG (electroencephalogram) to measure their brain activity, which Qantas says will offer an insight into the best working conditions for pilots.
Speaking about the potentially groundbreaking piece of research, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said he hopes to minimise the effects of lengthy flights on passengers and crew.
He 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."
The data collected from the trial will be passed onto the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to help determine the regulatory requirements for ultra-long-haul flights.
Mr 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 will run another trial flight from London to Sydney in November.
Featured Image Credit: Qantas