Qantas to begin test flights for world's longest commercial routes
Australia's national carrier Qantas will begin to test flights for three ultra long-haul services that are set to become the world's longest non-stop commercial routes, the airline announced on Thursday.
Scheduled for October, November and December, Project Sunrise will see Boeing 787-9s fly direct out of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on Australia's east coast to London and New York.
In order to gain more insight into crew and passenger well-being, Qantas partnered with two leading Australian universities.
They were tasked with monitoring passengers' sleeping patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and in-flight entertainment. To get a better understanding of how long distance travel can affect a person's body clock, the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre will equip around 40 airline staffs onboard and test flights with wearable technology sensors.
Meanwhile, Monash University researchers will examine pilots and crews' melatonin levels before, during and after the flights to measure their "alertness."
"Ultra long-haul flying presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and well-being of passengers and crew. These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them," Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said.
"For customers, the key will be minimizing 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 maximize rest during their down time on these flights."
Describing the new routes from the east coast of Australia to London and New York as the final frontier in aviation, Joyce added that the airline must get all the groundwork right before the service begins.
"No airline has done this kind of dedicated research before and we'll be using the results to help shape the cabin design, in-flight service and crew roster patterns for Project Sunrise," Joyce said.
"We'll also be looking at how we can use it to improve our existing long-haul flights."