When Qantas first started flying between London and Sydney in 1947, the flight was a journey. It had six stops and took five days to complete. Times have changed. After 19 hours and 19 minutes in the air, Qantas' direct flight from London to Sydney arrived. Qantas used the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which has been appropriately nicknamed Longreach.
The 19 hour and 19 minute flight flew over 11 countries in Europe and Asia, and then it crossed the Australian coast near Darwin. The flight covered a whopping 11,060 miles, and lucky passengers enjoyed two sunrises.
The airline cut travel time by an impressive three hours when compared to flights between London and Sydney that have a layover in Singapore.
Qantas wants to test the viability of nearly 20-hour flights. The airline is considering whether it wants to order planes for what would become the world's longest commercial routes. The latest research flight only carried 52 passengers.
Qantas is hoping to offer the Project Sunrise routes as part of its regular schedule by 2022 or 2023. However, before it can do that, it must convince aviation regulators in Australia that cabin crew, pilots and passengers can cope with being in the air for up to 22 hours straight.
The London-Sydney flight is part of Qantas' Project Sunrise, which is testing out ultra-long-haul passenger flights. Last month, the airline flew nonstop from New York to Sydney in 19 hours 16 minutes. The third and final flight of the project will be from Sydney to New York. Findings from the three test flights will help the airline increase comfort and well-being for flyers ultra-long-haul flights, particularly flights between the east coast of Australia and New York as well as London.
According to the airline, a decision will be made at the end of the year as to whether the airline will go ahead with the routes. Not only does it need the approval of regulators, but also the airline must decide whether nearly 20 hour flights are economically viable. At the moment, Qantas is considering using the Boeing 777X-9 or the Airbus A350-1000 to operate the Project Sunrise routes should they become a reality.