All about the upcoming 'world's longest' 20-hour flight
About a year ago, Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce had publicly challenged Airbus and Boeing to design a plane capable of making ultra-long distance flights. Now, it seems both Boeing and Airbus have risen to the challenge and have convinced Qantas that a comfortable 20-hour-long Sydney to London flight is actually possible, marking a significant step towards ultra-long distance flights in future. Here's more.
It's worth noting here that very long distance flights currently exist. Qatar Airways has an 18-hour-long flight from Auckland to Doha, while Qantas itself has a 17-hour-long flight connecting Perth and London. Singapore Airlines, too, will restart its 19-hour-long Singapore-New York direct flight in October. Yet, all these flights are operated with standard plane set ups, making these bum-numbing marathon journeys tedious and uncomfortable.
Enter Qantas' challenge. Dubbed Project Sunrise, it involves configuring aircraft to make them capable of transporting around 300 passengers and their luggage non-stop across massive distances, with fuel in hand for contingencies. Comfort is a prime requirement. If designs permit, and if routes prove viable, ultra-long distance flights could provide direct connections from major American, European, and African cities to Australia from 2022.
Rising up to the challenge, Airbus and Boeing executives recently flew to Sydney to make presentations to Qantas about proposed designs for ultra-long distance flights. Impressed, Joyce told Bloomberg, "We're now comfortable that we think we have vehicles that could do it. I'm actually confident that it will get there [from Sydney to London] and we will have aircraft in 2022."
Currently, having seen the presentations, Qantas is in two minds about the Airbus 350 and the Boeing 777X. Calling Airbus and Boeing "creative" in their proposed designs, Joyce said that future ultra-long distance flights could have childcare and gym facilities, bars, and bunks to sleep on, among other things. Joyce added, that he'd place an order next year after deciding between Airbus and Boeing.
"We're challenging ourselves to think outside the box. Would you have the space used for other activities - exercise, bar, creche, sleeping areas and berths? Boeing and Airbus have been actually quite creative in coming up with ideas," said Joyce.