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HISTORY MADE: LHR-SYD In Under 20 Hours Direct On Qantas

After 19 hours and 19 minutes in the air, Qantas has today touched down in Sydney after departing London on a monstrous 17,800km journey.

After 19 hours and 19 minutes in the air, Qantas has today touched down in Sydney after departing London on a monstrous 17,800km journey.

As you’ll no doubt remember, last month Qantas successfully completed their first non-stop research flight between New York and Sydney.

The direct flight cut around three hours off the typical gate-to-gate travel time of current one-stop flights.

Today’s brand new Boeing 787 Dreamline arrival, QF 7879 landed at Sydney airport at noon at 12:28 pm, 19 hours and 19 minutes after leaving Heathrow.

The direct flight reduced total travel time also by around three hours compared with current one-stop services from the east coast of Australia. It is only the second time any commercial airline has flown this route non-stop after Qantas flew a near-empty 747-400 in 1989.

Alan Joyce arrives in Sydney

Today’s new Dreamliner arrival was met by more than 1,000 Qantas employees in Sydney to mark the flying kangaroo’s 99th birthday and kick off 12 months of celebrations as it heads towards its centenary.

Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre as well as the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity again travelled on the non-stop Dreamliner flight to collect passenger and crew data.

A third research flight, repeating the New York-Sydney route, will take place in December.

The findings from all three research flights will be used to inform future service and product design, aimed at increasing wellbeing and comfort during travel on long-haul flights – in particular, the direct flights Qantas hopes to operate on a commercial basis between the east coast of Australia and London and New York.

Qantas is expected to announce a final yes/no decision on Project Sunrise by the end of this year.

If approved, flights could start as early as 2023.



  • The research flight carried only 52 passengers and crew (to give the 787-9 the range required for the 17,800 km flight).
  • The flight took 19 hours and 19 minutes.
  • The service was a re-purposed delivery flight. Rather than flying from Boeing’s factory in Seattle back to Australia empty, the aircraft was positioned in London to simulate one of the Project Sunrise routes under consideration by Qantas. All carbon emissions were offset.
  • Professor Corinne Caillaud from the Charles Perkins Centre said passengers would be “eating supper at breakfast time, with the aim of encouraging them to sleep at 10 am in the morning London time to help avoid light and reset their body clock to Sydney time.”
  • Passengers boarded at 6 am London time. After take-off, they were offered a range of high GI supper options such as chicken broth with macaroni or a steak sandwich, along with a glass of wine and a milk-based pana cotta dessert.
  • Cabin lighting and temperature, stretching and meditation will also play key roles in the research.



Qantas first started flying between London and Sydney in 1947. Back then it took five days and six stops. Today, the airline flies London to Perth non-stop in under 17 hours.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “Almost a century after our first flight, Qantas and Jetstar carry more than 50 million people around this country and the globe each year. I’m sure that would amaze our three founders, who held the early board meetings of this company at the local tailor’s shop because it was the longest table they could find.”

“A lot of Australians saw the world for the first time on a flying kangaroo. And a lot of migrants started their life in Australia when they first stepped on a Qantas plane.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce

“There are so many amazing Qantas stories that also tell the story of modern Australia. We want our centenary to be a celebration of those stories as well as how we’ll be part of taking the spirit of Australia further in the years ahead,” added Mr Joyce.

The London to Sydney Project Sunrise research flight will operate almost 100 years to the day that the first-ever flight from the UK to Australia took off from Hounslow Heath (near today’s Heathrow Airport) on 12 November 1919. It landed in Darwin 28 days later on 10 December 1919.

Qantas has named its endeavour “Project Sunrise” after the airline’s historic ‘Double Sunrise’ endurance flights during the Second World War, which remained airborne long enough to see two sunrises.

READ: RESPONSIBLE AIR: Qantas Group Commits To Zero Carbon Emissions By 2050