Qantas has completed its final non-stop super flight, bringing an end to an ambitious series of ultra long-haul test flights under Project Sunrise.
If you’re wondering how you missed it, you’re not alone.
Despite widespread media coverage of the first two test flights in October and November, the final trip from New York to Sydney on December 17 was seemingly swept under the rug.
Dr Tracey Sletten from the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) was the top scientist monitoring the project.
She said the media coverage blackout was intentional.
“Qantas intentionally didn’t bother pushing the media side of this time,” Dr Sletten told The New Daily.
“They thought there might’ve been a saturation.”
The three ultra long-haul test flights used new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and formed part of Qantas’ plan to master non-stop commercial flights between Melbourne and Sydney to New York and London.
The aircraft each carried about 40 people, including crew and Qantas staff.
Cutting edge technology was used to help scientists collect data on the alertness of pilots and cabin crew during the marathon airline routes.
Every pilot and crew member onboard were fitted with wrist gadgets, similar to Fitbits, to assess their sleep, as well as headbands equipped with sensors to monitor brain activity.
Now that all the three flights have been completed, Dr Sletten said it was time for her team to collect and analyse the data.
“We’re really excited,” she said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity, and it’s really fabulous there is a chance for us to collect this level of intensive data in a scenario in which we wouldn’t normally be able to collect to inform flight safety.”
Project Sunrise key points
- Qantas ran three non-stop test flights – two from New York to Sydney and one from London to Sydney – to gather new data about inflight passenger and crew health over ultra long-haul flights
- Each flight was around 19 hours each
- The aircraft used were new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners
- The flights took place in October, November and December this year
- Flights carried about 40 people on board, including predominantly crew and Qantas employees
- The flights were for research purposes only
- Carbon emissions from the flights were reportedly fully offset