QF7879, a Qantas research flight, landed in Sydney on Sunday morning – a full 19 hours and 16 minutes after starting its 10,066 mile journey from New York. The airline said it was the first commercial flight connecting the two cities.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, one of 49 passengers and crew aboard the test aircraft, buzzed upon landing that the Australian flagship – and the aviation industry in general – had just reached a milestone.
"This is a truly historic moment for Qantas, a truly historic moment for Australian aviation and a truly historical moment for world aviation," Joyce said, according to Reuters.
Qantas said the test aircraft was used to "run a series of experiments" To measure the impact of long-haul flights on pilots, passengers and flight crews, it also helped the company decide whether to add the non-stop New York-to-Sydney flight – which will be the world's longest commercial flight trip – to the regular
Qantas said it is also throwing possible direct flights between London and Sydney, as well as direct flights linking two other major Australian cities – Melbourne and Brisbane – with London and New York.
The airline said it plans to implement a test flight from London to Sydney next month and expects to make a decision on possible new routes by the end of the year. If approved, flights may start by 2022 or 2023.
As Reuters noted, no commercial aircraft can currently complete an uninterrupted flight from New York to Sydney at full load.
For its test flight over the weekend, Qantas had only a few passengers, limited luggage and no cargo. The flight also took off with maximum fuel.
Qantas captain Sean Golding, who led the four pilots on rotation during the flight, said that the journey went "very smoothly."
"Overall, we are very pleased with how the flight went and there are some great the data we need to consider to make this a regular service, "Golding said in a statement.
Everyone aboard the research aircraft had monitoring devices during the trip, which researchers from the University of Australia at Sydney and Monash University will use to determine how factors such as lighting, food and drink and sleep patterns affected the health and wellbeing of passengers and crew. Those who were on board were also recommended to carry sleep diaries both before and after the flight.
"People seem to be very different when it comes to the experience of jet lag – and we need more research into what contributes to jet lag and travel density, so we can try to reduce the impact of long-haul flights, "said Stephen Simpson at Universi resort of Sydney & # 39; s Charles Perkins Center to CNN Travel.
"We have a long way to go in understanding how the wide variety of influences – including nutrition, moisture, exercise, sleep and light – can work together for maximum benefit," Simpson added.
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