Qantas Airways today began what will be three months of testing for its proposed ‘ultra long haul’ flight – a 20-hour non-stop journey between Sydney and New York or London.
Using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the Australia-based carrier will test both the nuts and bolts – literally – of how the aircraft holds up, as well as the tolerance level of hundreds of passengers over the course of almost a full day of flying.
The flight would become the longest in the world in terms of both time and length at 10,563 miles.
For this test flight, only 40 people will be on board.
“We know from basic science of circadian rhythms that a bigger time difference between departure and arrival locations, and traveling east rather than west, tends to mean people feel more jetlag,” says Stephen Simpson, academic director of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, which is working with Qantas to investigate the impact on passengers.
But it also has to make financial sense for Qantas.
The aircraft will likely need additional fuel tanks on the outside, and the cabin configuration will need to be tweaked in order to sell more premium class and business class seats.
“Some airlines make more money from their premium economy passengers than they do from their business class passengers, because they pay quite a premium on economy, half the business class rate, but take up less than half the floor space,” says Loughborough University aviation expert David Gleave, who noted that “It’s much more expensive to fly the plane direct [to Sydney] than it is to stop. “It’s just a unique selling point.”
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