The longest non-stop passenger flight touched down in Australia Sunday morning after more than 19 hours in the air, a milestone journey from New York that Qantas hopes to parlay into commercial success, reports AFP.
Qantas flight QF7879 took 19 hours and 16 minutes to fly direct from New York to Sydney in the first of three “ultra long-haul” journeys planned by the airline this year. The national flag carrier is operating the test flights which also include one from London to Sydney—as it weighs a rollout of regular services on marathon routes from the United States and Britain to Australia.Just 49 people travelled on the Boeing 787-9 to minimise the weight on board and give the plane sufficient fuel range to travel more than 16,000 kilometres (9,500 miles) without re-fuelling.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce called it “a really historic moment” for both the airline and world aviation. “This is the first of three test flights that’s going to come up with recommendations about how we manage pilot fatigue (and) how we actually manage passenger jetlag,” he told reporters after arriving in Sydney.
“After 19 hours on this flight, I think we’ve gotten this right. It feels like we’ve been on a flight a lot shorter than that.”
Qantas partnered with two Australian universities to monitor how jetlag affected the health of passengers and crew members as they crossed multiple time zones.