History will be made tomorrow when a brand new Qantas Boeing 787-9 takes off on a 19-hour direct flight from New York to Sydney as part of a trial run for the new route.

No airline has ever completed the route without stopping before.

The research flight will have a maximum of 40 people on board (aka human guinea pigs), including crew.

The main purpose of the flight is to gather data about inflight passenger and crew health and wellbeing on ultra-long-haul journeys.


The on-board research is being designed in partnership with Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre and Monash University.

People in the cabin will be fitted with wearable technology and take part in specific experiences at set stages of the flight.

Scientists and medical experts from the Charles Perkins Centre will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment to assess the impact on health, wellbeing and body clock.


Pilots will wear an EEG device that tracks brain wave patterns and monitors alertness.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce explained that ultra-long-haul flying presents a lot of “common sense questions about the comfort and wellbeing of passengers and crew”.

“These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them,” he explained.

‘For customers, the key will be minimising jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight”.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce

He said in terms of the crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximise rest during their downtime on these flights.

Friday’s flight from New York is part of key test work for The Flying Roo as it prepares to start direct commercial services from the Aussie East Coast to New York and London as early as 2022.