Qantas concludes ‘Project Sunrise’ test flights

By Ankur Deo | December 24, 2019

Qantas has officially completed the three test flights of Project Sunrise, with the third flight being swept completely under the radar. The first two flights in October and November this year were heavily reported by the media, however, the third and final test flight from New York to Sydney on December 17, 2019, pretty much went unnoticed.

According to a Dr. Tracey Sletten from the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, the top scientist monitoring the project:

‘Qantas intentionally didn’t bother pushing the media side this time. They thought there might have been a saturation’.

The three ultra-long flights were conducted using a Boeing 787-9 aircraft to study the effects of a 19-20 hours flight on the human body and mind; you can read more about the objectives of Project Sunrise test flights on our article titled: ‘Qantas continues with 3rd EXTREME long haul flight’. Interestingly, even though the flights were carried on a Boeing 787-9, the choice of flight to be used for the commercial flights was recently finalized to be a modified Airbus A350-1000 (more about it in our recent article: QANTAS Project Sunrise Update). The motto of the test flights was not to assess the aircraft capability, but the physiological and psychological effects of such a flight on passengers. 

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has said:

‘The flights, which were conducted for research purposes only, will give medical experts the chance to do real-time research that will translate into health and well being benefits. 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’

The final aircraft shall have areas designated for mid-air exercises for passengers. Image Credits:

Now that all three test flights have been completed, Dr. Sletten said it was now time for the team to collect data from all flights and analyze it. 40 people were present on all every flight, including crew members, all of whom were fitted with wrist gadgets to assess their sleep patterns, as well as head bands to monitor their brain activities. The data analysis shall help Qantas in taking actions that would help towards minimizing jet lag for the passengers and create an environment that would lead to a comfortable and enjoyable flight.

The non-stop flights from Sydney to London and New York are expected to commence from 2023. A successful implementation of this flight (from business and technical point of view) might pave the way to other non-stop ultra-long-haul flights from Australia to the USA and Europe. Now, be frank with us, are you excited to travel for 19 hours straight on an A350-1000 with designated areas for mid-flight exercises? Share with us your views about Project Sunrise in the comments!

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