Have you ever wondered what the longest flight time for a commercial flight is? Recently in the last quarter of 2019, Qantas Airlines answered this question in two experiments that would redefine the air travel industry. This experiment involved two separate flights to Sydney from London with a distance of 16,989km and New York with a distance of 16,020km, which became the world’s longest commercial air routes. Known as ‘Project Sunrise’, the name is derived for the unusual phenomenon of passengers seeing two sunrises on the route from London to Sydney.
The flight from New York to Sydney took a total flight time of 19 hours and 16 minutes, while London to Sydney lasted for 19 hours and 19 minutes. The purpose of these flights was to evaluate the effects of the distance on aircrew and passengers, as well as providing a proof of concept. For comparison, the current longest air route is flown by Singapore Airlines from Singapore to New Jersey at 15,343 km taking a flight time of 18 and 30 minutes. Such extremely long routes present unique challenges which have to be overcome, such as long traveling hours and jet lag.
Despite the completion and success of these experiments, Qantas has currently rejected both designs from Boeing and Airbus for this air route. This is due to the financial aspect of the airlines, which requires Qantas’ pilots to comply with a new pay structure that would guarantee productivity improvements of 30%. It’s all back to the drawing board now to create a new airliner suitable for this route, but for now, both routes remain the longest commercial flights in the world.