Qantas is to run tests of its planned 19-hour flights from London and New York to Sydney to see whether passengers and crew can cope with the journey.
The Australian airline will carry 40 passengers, mainly Qantas employees, on three research flights in October, November and December ahead of its plan to launch the services from 2022.
The test from New York to Sydney will be the first time that a commercial airline has flown directly between the two cities, Qantas said, while the journey form London to Sydney has only been carried out once before.
Scientists will be on board the flight to carry out research into passengers’ sleep patterns, food and drink consumption and movement to see how they fare during the mega flight, while pilots will be fitted with devices that check brain wave patterns and alertness.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “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.
“For customers, the key will be minimising jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight. For 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 down time on these flights.
“Flying non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation, so we’re determined to do all the groundwork to get this right.”
The three test flights will use new Boeing 787-9 aircraft but Airbus is also in the running to provides its A350 aircraft for the flights. Qantas said it would make a decision by the end of December and that it would depend on “aircraft economics, regulatory approvals and industrial agreements”.