Qantas "Project Sunrise" London for Sydney Non-Stop Research Flight

Overcoming Final Frontier in Aviation

Qantas named its endeavor "Project Sunrise" following the airline's historic & # 39; Double Sunrise & # 39; endurance flights during World War II, which remained airborne enough to see two sunrises.

This is the second of three research flights from Project Sunrise, after New York to Sydney last month. Qantas seeks to offer ultra-long-haul flights connecting Australia's east coast with London and New York.

Qantas Project Sunrise

Not a Typical Passenger Flight

The aircraft is not a typical passenger flight; it is a delivery flight and a research flight. The brand new Boeing 787-9, VH-ZNJ in Qantas special Centenary life, flew in from the Boeing plant via Los Angeles to London the day before.

Qantas Centenary livery on B787-9. Photo by Tim Bowrey

I started my tour leaving the hotel in London City at 3:30 am and arrived at Heahrow Terminal 3 at. 4:15.

The flight, QF7879 non-stop from London to Sydney is scheduled to depart at 06:00 and arrive in Sydney the day after 12.30. There is an 11 hour time difference between London and Sydney, ensuring that passengers on the plane witness a "double sunrise".

Qantas research route QF7879 non-stop from London to Sydney

The aircraft is operated by Qantas Captain Helen Trenerry, First Commander Ryan Gill and 2 other officers (Chris Agnew and Tegan Gray). None of the pilots are from management, as the captain explained "we want so close to the real flying experience of our regular pilots."

The cockpit crew of Qantas research flight QF7879 non-stop from London to Sydney

Captain Lisa Norman and Alex Passerini, who flew the day before on the delivery plane from LA to London, also participated in the cabin.

There were 38 passengers, including 6 passengers examined. Others invited were: media, regulatory personnel, VIP and Qantas management. All of us sat in the front of the plane in Business Class, while our luggage was stored behind to balance the plane.

When I asked why there were no passengers sitting in the back of the plane. (except severe restrictions on payload)

"The current offer of Economy Class would not represent the actual product of Project Sunrise if the project were to proceed. The Economy Class of Project Sunrise will be far better and more spacious for the ultra long flight. "

Qantas explains

Qantas Business Class in London to Sydney non-stop
Qantas Business Class in London to Sydney non-stop

The aircraft departed 06:09 from runway 27L at Heathrow. Flight time should be 19 hours and 19 minutes without a stopover to Sydney.

Cockpit view of Qantas research flight QF7879 nonstop from London to Sydney
Cockpit crew of Qantas researches flight QF7879 nonstop from London to Sydney
Take off at London time 06:09

The aircraft between London and Sydney overflow the following countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, the Philippines and Indonesia.

In principle, the aircraft can be broken into two parts, London to Hong Kong and then Hong Kong to Sydney.

Flight Path of Qantas non-stop London to Sydney.

Sunrise and Exercise

About 40 minutes after takeoff, we witnessed the first sunrise on this flight. The light at the front of the cabin was dimmed so passengers could acclimate to Sydney's evening. I moved to the back of the plane to record the sunrise.

Sunrise on Qantas non-stop research flight London to Sydney
Sunrise on Qantas non-stop research flight London to Sydney. Photo by Qantas
Sunrise on Qantas non-stop research flight London to Sydney. Photo by Qantas

Led by Professor Corinne Caillaud, of the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney, passengers were encouraged to perform simple training tasks in the aisle of the Economy cabin. These exercises include easy walking, stretching in different positions, squatting and lifting heels / tows.

Exercise on the research flight from London to Sydney

Jetlag Strategies

Qantas works in collaboration with the University of Sydney & # 39; Charles Perkins Center and CRC for Altertness, Safety and Productivity aboard this flight, to gather real-time data on passengers and crew inflight health and wellness.

This flight is designed to test the effect of special timed food, drink, movement, lightning and sleep on the wellbeing of passengers during the long journey.

"The flight will involve passengers eating supper at breakfast time, with the aim of encouraging them to sleep at 10 am London time to avoid light and reset the body clock to Sydney time."

Professor Corinne Caillaud

The light plan in the cabin is designed to maximize the adaptation to the time zone of destination.

Business Class Cabin on Qantas Research Flight

Not Your
Ordinary Inflight menu

After launch, a selection of high GI dinner options were offered such as chicken broth with macaroni or steak sandwich, along with a glass of wine and a milk-based dessert.

Menu on Qantas research flight from London to Sydney

There was no soda or liquor loaded on the flight; healthier drinks like Kombucha and coconut water were given instead. Qantas also gave each passenger a refillable water bottle, which I think is a great initiative to avoid plastic bottles.

After supper, passengers, including myself, were allowed to go straight to sleep.

By this time, three hours had passed over 19 hours of flight.

Research Flight

The findings of this study will help to shape the future cabin of the future, maximize inflight health and comfort and minimize jet legs for passengers. Pilot research will monitor the flight crew's alertness and optimal working and rest patterns for ultra-long flight.

Cabin lighting and temperature, stretching and meditation will also play key roles in the research.

Pilot and cabin crew research – in collaboration with CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity

Four pilots and six cabin crews are involved in data collection, wearing equipment to measure activity and light exposure, complete sleep diaries, and alertness and response time tests.

Pilots use EEG (electroencephalogram) brain monitoring equipment during the flight, to track brain activity and monitor alertness in their "on" times and sleep quality during "rest time".

Pilots also provide scientists with urine samples from before, during and after the flight, which will track melatonin levels to establish individual clock time for the body.

Cabin crew also have wrist to measure activity and light exposure

The main objective of the research is to investigate sleep cycles and sleep alertness and alertness during extended flight duty, to establish optimal crew work and rest patterns.

Cameras are mounted in the cockpit during flight time to detect warning lights and operating activities.

Passenger Research – in collaboration with the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Center

The goal of the research is to identify strategies to reduce jet lag and promote inflight health. Passengers are equipped with portable device technology to track movement and light exposure.

Passengers keep a daily log for one week before the flight, during the flight and for two weeks after the flight, and notice how they are doing during the study.

Passengers will complete a test on an iPad, similar to a "Whack a Mole" game, to measure reaction time and cognitive performance.

Double Sunrise sighted

After a long uninterrupted rest and 13 hours into the flight, I witnessed the second sunrise over Ambon, Indonesia.

Double Sunrise on Qantas research flight from London to Sydney
Second Sunrise on Qantas research flight from London to Sydney
Second Sunrise on Qantas research flight from London to Sydney

Breakfast was served at sunrise; Passengers were offered a shot with piccolo latte or cold pressed juice.

Secret Order of the Double Sunrise

Qantas has named its effort "Project Sunrise" after the airline's historic "Double Sunrise" endurance flights during World War II, which remained airborne long enough to see two sunrises.

On today's flight we were presented with a flight certificate "Secret Order of the Double Sunrise"

One side of the certificate is for the current flight, and on the other side of the certificate is a copy of the 1944 flight made on Catalina Flying Boat.

Flight Certificate on Qantas Research Flight from London to Sydney
Flight Certificate on Qantas Research Flight from London to Sydney

We reached the Northern Territories of Australia with only 4 hours left. Our fuel load on this flight was 100,800 kilograms, and we consumed around 93,200 kg, with an additional saving of 1,800 kilograms due to the optimization of the airplane.

A light lunch was served before landing; The tagliatelle with beef ragu was simply delicious.

Our landing was made at 12:28 local time in Sydney. Total flight time was 19 hours and 19 minutes. The flight landed on runway 34L and headed straight into Qantas Jetbase hangar.

Qantas Centenary

London to Sydney Project Sunrise research flights operated almost 100 years to the day of the first ever flight from the UK to Australia; which took off from Hounslow Heath (near today's Heathrow airport) on November 12, 1919, it landed in Darwin 28 days later on December 10, 1919.

It comes as the Australian national carrier celebrates 100 years of service. Among those at the Sydney airport to greet QF7879 were Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese, as well as Qantas leader Richard Goyder. Over 1,000 employees and guests attended the huge celebration.


With the good jet lag strategies, my body clock acclimated well in Sydney's time zone at the beginning of the flight, so I didn't feel very jet lagged upon arrival. I see the benefits of less body fatigue on a 19 hour non-stop flight over a one stop flight, which usually takes at least 22-24 hours from London to Sydney. The direct flight was long enough to guarantee a long uninterrupted rest period. It is still interesting to see how the "more spacious" economy class will do if Project Sunrise takes the lead. Kudos to Qantas for being focused on promoting wellness during this research flight.

Result of Project Sunrise

Airbus and Boeing have both deployed aircraft (A350 and 777X respectively) with the scope to operate Project Sunrise flights, on a commercial basis. These locations, along with findings from research flights and other workflows, will form part of a business case developed by Qantas to inform a final yes / no decision on Project Sunrise, expected by the end of this year. If approved, flights can start as early as 2023.

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