Qantas put a challenge out to aircraft manufacturers to produce a plane capable of flying non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to Europe, and Airbus may have already found the solution.

Shortly after welcoming the 787 Dreamliner into its fleet, Qantas’ Chief Executive publicly announced ‘Project Sunrise’ a not-so-secret mission for Airbus and Boeing to deliver an ultra long-haul aircraft by 2020.

The Flying Kangaroo requires this unique plane to fly for up to 20 hours from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to places such as London, New York and Rio de Janeiro while carrying some 300 passengers.

Image credit: marchello74 /

Image credit: marchello74 /

Although manufacturers say they already have planes that can go the distance, it’s the extended flight time plus passenger count that has them coming up short.

However, Airbus’ Head of Sales for the Pacific Region, Iain Grant, said the manufacturer believes that with some modification the A350-900ULR may be the aircraft to get the job done.

He told media that conversations with Qantas have been centred around the 900ULR, but the company could considered reviving the shelved shorter fuselage A350-800 should the original aircraft fail to meet requirements.

Image: Victor Pody

Image: Victor Pody

“We are bringing in our A350-900ULR which is going to do the Sydney-London mission and we are very comfortable with that and we will continue to work with them to meet their requirements.”

Iain Grant, Airbus Head of Sales Pacific

With Project Sunrise, Qantas is hoping to cut back the current flight time between the East Coast of Australia and Europe by up to three hours.

In addition to flying direct to London, the Flying Kangaroo’s boss, Alan Joyce, said he would also like to take Aussies direct to places such as Seattle, New York, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town.

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READ: The Flying Kangaroo opens its first lounge in London

Would you be up for a 20-hour direct flight to Rio?