Qantas’ Project Sunrise is expected to offer direct flights from Sydney to London and New York in 2025. Sunrise Project will also include direct flights from Australia to Frankfurt, Paris and Rio de Janeiro. These are journeys that will test the limits of commercial aircraft and especially passengers and crew.
Qantas has been conducting scientific and medical studies since 2019 in which it analyzes the behavior and well-being of passengers and crew on long-duration trips. The process also required the choice of an aircraft capable of performing such missions, in this case Airbus A350-1000 jets with special modifications recently ordered by the company.
Classified by the Australian company as the “last frontier” of long-duration air travel, the 20-hour flights will have exclusive elements that promise to improve the passenger experience, besides representing a new technological advance in aviation.
Finding ways to make a 20-hour flight in one of those seats palatable is going to come down to what else Qantas can offer those passengers.Ian Petchenik, host of the AvTalk aviation podcast
Among the more than 50 new aircraft recently ordered by Qantas, the main highlight is the order of 12 Airbus A350-1000 jets, which will be used for the ultra long flights from Sydney to London and New York three years from now. To operate safely on the 20-hour stretches, the Qantas’ A350-1000 will be a single version, equipped with an additional fuel tank. Airbus has not yet released details about the variant, but it is likely that the model destined for the Australian company should be set to travel more than 17,000 km, given the distance of the flight between Sydney and London (16,983 km).
The largest variant of Airbus’ A350 XWB family, the A350-1000, is certified to carry up to 480 passengers. However, for the sake of the comfort and well-being of customers who will be traveling for 20 hours, Qantas chose a cabin with only 238 seats, including six in first class, 52 in business class, 40 in Premium Economy and 140 in Economy. “I think the real differentiator for passengers in the back of the aircraft is going to be the soft product or forms of entertainment,” Ian Petchenik, host of the AvTalk aviation podcast told CNN.
Those in first or business class will have a more comfortable trip, but Qantas also had the “back of the line” passengers in mind. The pitch in Premium Economy will be 40 inches (1.01 meters), which is quite generous for an economy seat, even for those with the “premium” designation. In conventional Economy, the seats will have a pitch of 33 inches (83.8 centimeters).
According to CNN, Qantas will likely choose the best economy seats from the top design and engineering firms, like Recaro or Collins Aerospace.
They will have seat foams covered by special fabrics, a substantial amount of recline, a substantial headrest, under seat footrest, and in Qantas’ case a small foot hammock.
The main cabin solution created by Qantas to reduce passenger wear and tear during long periods of confinement on the plane is what it calls the “Well-being Zone,” which will be accessible to all travelers on board. This is a dedicated space in the aircraft cabin for occupants to move around during their journey.
Australia is like a piece of the West located in the East. In other words, it is a country that is far away from the major commercial and tourist centers located in the Western hemisphere. Currently, connecting these two regions by air requires at least one connection, such as flights from Sydney to London and New York.
With the implementation of Project Sunrise, Qantas expects to reduce the flight time for those traveling to and from Australia to the other side of the world by up to four hours compared to one or more stopovers. In addition, the company also guarantees that all operations under Project Sunrise will be carbon neutral, with all emissions offset.
For Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, the ultra-long routes will make any city in the world just one flight away from Australia. “It is the last frontier and the final solution to the tyranny of distance that has traditionally challenged travel to Australia.”