A piece of aviation history is being made today with the first ever non stop flight between New York and Sydney. It is a mere 9,929 miles between the two cities. The flight will take 19½ hours to complete.
The flight will be operated by a Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner. As far as I can ascertain, the aircraft will be VH-ZNI. Qantas’ eight other Dreamliners in service are all busy operating long haul flights elsewhere and VH-ZNI was just ferried to LAX and handed over to Qantas three days ago. A history making flight would be a suitably impressive start to VH-ZNI’s life flying for Qantas and is just the sort of thing the Qantas PR machine likes.
The flight is not a regular passenger flight. It will be a research flight, gathering data for Qantas’ proposed ultra long haul Project Sunrise flights. The Dreamliner won’t make the distance with a full load, so it will be carrying just 50 passengers and crew.
Qantas, in conjunction with Melbourne’s Monash University, will be using these 50 passengers and crew as human guinea pigs. In addition to providing urine samples and keeping written log, pilots will wear ECG monitoring devices to gauge and measure fatigue in order to help Qantas optimise crew work and rest patterns on ultra long haul flights.
It won’t be a free ride for the passengers either (comprised of Qantas employees, researchers, journalists, and selected frequent flyers). Passengers will also wear devices to track their movements inflight and gauge their exposure to natural light. There will be testing of the optimum time to serve meals and cognitive tests have been devised. The idea is for Qantas to work out how to best reduce jet lag.
The research flight will push back from New York at 9.00pm (New York local time) tonight, 18 October 2019. Because the flight will cross the international date line, it will arrive into Sydney on Sunday 20 October 2019.
You can track the flight by punching the aircraft’s registration number (VH-ZNI) into any aircraft tracking site.