Test run for world's first non-stop flight from NY to Australia

'Flying non-stop from the east coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation,' Qantas CEO says.

Sara Rubenstein ,

Credit: ISTOCK

Australia's national airline, Qantas, announced on Thursday that it is carrying out three non-stop flights from New York and London to Sydney to collect data about passenger and crew well-being during the 19-hour flights.

Each flight will carry a maximum of 40 people - mostly Qantas employees - who will wear devices to record their experiences during the flights, such as sleep patterns and physical movement, according to a press release by Qantas. Scientists and medical professionals from Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Center and Monash University will monitor and study the data together with CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity.

Pilots will be outfitted with EEG (electroencephalogram) devices, which will monitor their brain wave patterns and alertness during the flights. Researchers will also test the flight crews' melatonin levels before, during and after the flights.

This will be the world's first non-stop flight by a commercial airline from New York to Sydney and the world's second non-stop flight by a commercial airline from London to Sydney. Three test flights will take place using new Boeing 787-9s in October, November and December.

The flights are part of the preparation for the Project Sunrise plan, Qantas' plan to run non-stop commercial flights from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York.

Qantas Group CEO Alan 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 minimizing 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 maximize 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, inflight 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."

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.”

A final decision on Project Sunrise is expected to be reached by the end of December 2019.