Qantas hopes to operate the first of its ‘Project Sunrise’ flights from the east coast of Australia to the east coast of Europe and the US for up to 20 hours non-stop from late 2025.
Australia’s national airline touts its flights as ‘aviation’s last frontier’, but health and industry experts say they are concerned about the passenger experience and that eliminating stopovers is the ultimate goal. I am wondering whether to increase aircraft emissions in the future.
Qantas first announced its vision to operate ultra-long haul routes in 2017, but Covid has pushed back a planned start to 2022. With the global aviation industry booming again thanks to the post-pandemic craving for travel, Project Sunrise is firmly back on the agenda.
The airline already operates direct flights from Perth to London and Rome, proving to be popular despite being more expensive than traditional services with stopovers in Asia.
Qantas, which operates Boeing 787s from Perth to Europe and used the aircraft for test flights on the Sydney-London route, said Project Sunrise will rely on the superior fuel efficiency of Airbus’ A350-1000s. increase.
The airline has ordered 12 of them to be equipped with 232 seats. That’s a lot less than his usual 300-350 seat configuration. This will allow the aircraft to carry the extra fuel needed to travel approximately 18,000 km without stopping.
With fewer potential customers per flight, Qantas leans towards the high-end market, with 40% of its cabins being ‘premium seats’.
Each plane has 6 seats in First Class Suites, 52 seats in Business Suites, 40 seats in Premium Economy and 140 seats in Standard Economy in the aft.
So far, airlines have revealed more about the front end of their planes. is also 50% larger. Business class has more legroom and privacy walls.
Far less is promised to economy travelers beyond the 33-inch seat pitch, which is two to three inches taller than airline standards. Passengers of all classes have access to the Snack Station and the ‘Wellbeing Zone’. A “dedicated space for movement,” the zone appears to be the same size behind most of the cabin aisles.
carbs and exercise
Qantas has teamed up with scientists from the University of Sydney to study the health effects of what will become the world’s longest flight, minimizing the effects on your body clock of seeing the sunrise twice on the same journey. suppressed.
On a test flight from Sydney to London in 2019, a carb-heavy meal was designed to put passengers to sleep early, while a spicy soup was added to energize passengers during waking hours at their destination. provided.
An aerial gymnastics class was also held, with Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce dancing the Macarena in the aisles of the economy cabin (no passengers were present).
Tony Seamer, a doctor specializing in aerospace medicine who has worked in the Australian Air Force and Navy, says that very long flights may slightly increase the risk of common in-flight problems such as deep vein thrombosis. says.
After four hours of flight time, the risk of blood clotting becomes noticeable and increases with each hour, Schiemer says.
He says there is little evidence to support “economy class syndrome.” The idea is that people crammed into tight seats are at greater risk.
“You’ll definitely be uncomfortable, but I don’t see why that would cause any long-term problems,” he says.
Seamer questions whether well-being zones are enough of a relief for those stuck in economy seats. He points to his bunk-style sleeping pods, which Air New Zealand plans to offer his four-hour slots to economy class passengers as a better initiative.
“It’s a great idea because getting more sleep is invaluable.”
Seamer, who also works as a commercial pilot, believes most of the additional risks associated with a 20-hour flight, except for passengers who are significantly older or have chronic medical conditions, may be psychological. .
“There isn’t much evidence that flying actively dehydrates you, but it has to do with human behavior. You don’t want to get up and pee a lot, so you choose to drink less.” , dehydration is a risk factor for developing blood clots.”
People who limit their fluid intake also feel the effects of alcohol more.
“Also, at higher altitudes there is less oxygen in the cabin, which makes it easier for passengers to feel a little intoxicated, so it’s important that passengers don’t overdo it.
“If someone is on vacation and uncomfortable due to physical space restrictions, some people drink more and stay in the environment longer on these flights,” Schiemer says.
“Fuel and Seats Tradeoff”
Qantas boasts that the A350 burns up to 20% less fuel and emits 25% less carbon per seat than other similarly sized aircraft, but critics say direct flights are greener. It is doubtful whether the damage of the
On the one hand, it saves fuel by avoiding at least one takeoff, the most energy-consuming part of the flight. However, carrying far fewer passengers significantly increases emissions per passenger.
Emissions for Project Sunrise flights have not been released, but the International Civil Aviation Organization estimates that a direct flight from Dubai to Auckland (approximately 14,000 km) will generate an average of 876 kg of CO2 per economy class passenger. Calculated. With a stopover in Singapore, the average emissions per economy class passenger was 772kg. Emissions are significantly higher for premium class passengers.
Qantas is betting that the time saved by direct flights will appeal to business customers. The company estimates that the direct flight will cut his London-Sydney journey from his 19 hours to his 20 hours. Singapore.
According to the airline, Project Sunrise’s flight time is 18 to 20 hours depending on the direction, and airfare information has not yet been released. It did not respond to questions about emissions.
Zena Assaad, a senior researcher at the Australian National University with a PhD in long-haul efficiency, hopes that ultra-long-haul flights will become more common, and that this could help improve congestion at major airports. Said it helps.
But she predicts that Qantas may have to move away from its luxury cabin mix to become more competitive on price.
“Perhaps the approach of giving customers more space is great at first, but if 20-hour flights become the norm, I don’t know how cost-effective it will be,” she said. says.
Qantas has yet to announce the fare structure for its flights, but says fares will be around 30% higher than traditional routes.
Professor Rico Merkert, deputy director of the University of Sydney’s Transport and Logistics Institute, said flights could benefit from targeting business travelers, and more spacious interiors due to the need for fuel I think it’s a plus in the end.
“Traveling faster is something business types are ready to spend money on, but even financially, as a tall person, sitting as cramped as a sardine can be a pain. I’m sure people won’t come back for that.”
“There’s this trade-off between fuel and fewer seats, which makes the flight less efficient, but it’s better than running a flight nobody wants. It’s the most inefficient use of fuel.”