The outcome of Project Sunrise is getting even closer, with Qantas announcing a second ultra-long-haul research flight for tomorrow. This time it will be a direct flight from London to Sydney.

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

The flight cut around three hours off the typical gate-to-gate travel time of current one-stop flights. A third research flight, repeating the New York-Sydney route, will take place in December.

Tomorrow’s flight marks only the second time in history that a commercial airline has flown directly from London to Sydney.


Luigi Manga – Unsplash

The first, believe it or not, was 30 years ago in 1989, when Qantas operated a 747-400 ferry flight between the two cities.

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

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.

All the deets on tomorrow’s Project Sunrise Research Flight #2 London to Sydney

The research flight will carry around 50 passengers and crew (to give the 787-9 the range required for the 17,800 km flight).

The flight is expected to take around 19 and a half hours.

While the flight is over 1,500 kms further than New York to Sydney, the duration is expected to be similar due to prevailing tailwinds between London and Sydney.

All carbon emissions from the research flights will be offset.

Professor Corinne Caillaud from the Charles Perkins Centre said they are looking forward to this second flight, which will involve passengers eating supper at breakfast time, with the aim of encouraging them to sleep at 10am in the morning London time to help avoid light and reset their body clock to Sydney time.

Passengers will board at 6am London time. After take-off they will be 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.


A long history flying to London

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 around 17 hours.

“Our Perth to London flight was a huge leap forward and it’s been incredibly popular,” he said.

“The final frontier is New York and London to the east coast of Australia non-stop and we are hopeful of conquering that by 2023 if we can make all elements of the business case stack up”.

Qantas CEO Alan 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.