Qantas has today announced plans to test three direct New York and London to Sydney research flights using newly-built 787s before they go into regular service.

In what is another pivotal step for the airline towards realising a world first in aviation, Qantas has announced the three test flights for its Project Sunrise initiative as part of their end of year FY19 financial results.

Sydney to New York direct? London to Sydney direct?

Could it finally be happening? We certainly hope so.

qantas-dreamliner

Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner

Qantas says that between October and the end of 2019, the airline will collect the new aircraft from the Boeing factory in Seattle, position them in New York and London, and fly direct to Sydney.

These flights are ground-breaking in themselves as no commercial airline has carried out these kinds of experiments before.

The flights will have researchers from Monash and Sydney universities on board, running tests on crew wellbeing and passenger comfort for almost 20 hours.

For weight reasons, there will only be about 40 people on board in total to give the 787 the range it needs for the tests. The ‘test fliers’ will be fitted with wearable technology devices and take part in specific experiences at varying stages of the flights.

In terms of who will win the race for actual airline production, both Boeing and Airbus have their best-and-final offers on the table – including a compelling offer from Boeing to deal with any delay to the 777X.

Does this news hint that it could be Boeing who is in the lead given only their aircraft are being used in the tests?

Qantas says “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.”

One of the hurdles the airline is still working through is a deal with Qantas pilots to fly the aircraft routes.

“We’re asking our pilots for some productivity gains – just as we did with the introduction of the Dreamliner – and those discussions are ongoing.”

Qantas spokesperson

Qantas says they have a high-level design of what their cabins would look like, and are currently working with regulators to allow flights beyond 20 hours.

After these tests, the airline says a YES/NO decision will be made by the end of 2019 with flights to begin from 2022 if all goes well.

We’ll be waiting Qantas 😉