Airline Qantas is seeking to operate the three longest flights in the world in what it calling its “Project Sunrise.” The research flights will take place in October, November, and December 2019 to “gather new data about inflight passenger and crew health and well-being.”
A 20-hour flight
The 20-hour flights will be operated by Boeing 787-9 aircraft and will test the limits of crew and passenger on board. Meanwhile, the aircraft-turned-testing-laboratory will be delivered to Qantas just prior to each flight.
Two of the flights will take off from New York and one from London and all will head to Sydney. They will be fitted with a minimal amount of onboard amenities and a maximum amount of fuel.
Normally, there are 236 seats on Qantas’ 787-9, but these special flights will feature only 50 people, including the crew. All onboard will be fitted with wearable testing equipment.
In addition, pilots will be monitored through an electroencephalogram (EEG) device so that researchers from Monash University can study their alertness to develop pilot rest patterns for future flights. Crew melatonin levels before, during, and after the flights will be measured.
Passengers also involved
Passengers will also partake in the testing. They will be equipped with wearable technology and take part in various experiences throughout the flight.
These experiences include lights and temperatures adjusting throughout the flight as well as guided meditations and stretching exercises.
The aim is to help passengers adjust while researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre evaluate how ultra-long haul flights affect their health. Passenger alertness and mood will be tracked throughout the flight.
Sadly, you cannot purchase a ticket to these flights but you can track them on this site. The first flight QF7879 from New York to Sydney has already taken off.
The 16,013-km trip began the 18 October at 21:00 EDT (01:00 UTC) from New York and is set to finish in Sydney on 20 October at 07:10 AEDT (20:00 UTC). Before you get too excited, Qantas has stated that it might be a few years before you can ever take part in such a long direct flight.
The airline estimates that, if testing is succesful, it would start the flights in 2022 or 2023.