Australian carrier Qantas on Sunday successfully completed a nonstop test flight from New York to Sydney to research how the world’s longest potential commercial airplane journey of more than 19 hours would impact pilots, crew and passengers, AFP reported.
The Boeing 787-9 with 49 people on board took 19 hours and 16 minutes to fly from New York to Sydney, covering a distance of 16,200 km (10,066-mile). No commercial aircraft till date has the range to fly such an ultra-long route with a full passenger and cargo load, according to Reuters.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce, who also took the flight, called it “a really historic moment” for both the airline and world aviation. “This is the first of three test flights that’s going to come up with recommendations about how we manage pilot fatigue [and] how we actually manage passenger jet lag,” he told reporters after the touchdown in Sydney.
“After 19 hours on this flight, I think we’ve gotten this right,” Joyce added. “It feels like we’ve been on a flight a lot shorter than that.”
Qantas partnered with two Australian universities to gather data and monitor lighting, activity, sleep and consumption patterns of passengers, crew melatonin levels, among other things. The four pilots on board also wore devices that tracked their brain waves and alertness.
Passengers in the flight were served a high-carbohydrate meal, told to avoid screens, and the lights were dimmed to encourage them to sleep through the night.
Professor Marie Carroll, a researcher from Sydney University who conducted the experiment, told AFP that she expected this approach would result in “absolutely minimal” jetlag. “It’s all an experiment to see if airlines can adjust their schedule of food, beverages, exercise and lighting to be in sync with the destination time,” she added.
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