The longest non-stop flight in history landed in Sydney, Australia on October 20, after flying more than 19 hours since its departure from New York, announces the Australian airline Qantas. This is a new record and the longest non-stop commercial flight in history after traveling 16,000 kilometers in 19 hours and 16 minutes.
This experimental flight is the first in a series of three very long flights scheduled by the Australian airline as part of Project Sunrise, Qantas’ larger effort to study health on ultra-long-haul trips in the future.
The Boeing 787-9 was carrying only 49 people (that typically holds 280), mostly Qantas employees. The weight in the cabin was thus reduced, which allowed boarding a sufficient quantity of fuel for the 16000 km of the trip.
The flight was not an attempt to break a record but to study the ability of passengers and crew to support long flights. Researchers monitored the pilot’s brain waves, melatonin levels, and alertness. Besides, physical exercises were offered to the passengers, cabin lighting and in-flight meals were also adjusted in ways that are expected to help reduce jetlag.
“Night flights usually start with dinner and then lights off. For this flight, we started with lunch and kept the lights on for the first six hours, to match the time of day at our destination. It means you start reducing the jetlag straight away,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said.
A regular, one-stop New York to Sydney service (QF12) takes 22 hours and 20 minutes, that means Qantas saved a good three hours off the travel time.
Two of these test flights are coming soon – London to Sydney in November and another New York to Sydney in December. Emissions from all research flights will be fully offset.