The Australian airlines, Qantas just broke a record for air travel and it will help science in the process. Qantas has finalized the first non-stop commercial flight from New York City to Sydney as part of a project researching the effects of very long flights. The airline’s test took 19 hours and 16 minutes. The study measured brain waves of pilots, melatonin, and overall alertness. However, passengers helped gauge the effectiveness of anti-jetlag measures like changes to cabin lighting and meals. Passengers also participated in exercises to keep their bodies limber.
It is noteworthy that there are at least 2 more flights coming as part of the Project Sunrise. It is a larger effort of Qantas to study health on long-haul trips. A London to Sydney flight is due in November and a repeat New York to Sydney flight is coming in the month of December. A decision on the initiative is expected before the end of the current year. Some of the potential gains are already clear and this flight left 3 hours later than usual one-stop service of Qantas. It arrived slightly ahead that’s a lot of time saved. Qantas also decided to leave the lights on for the first 6 hours of the flight in order to replicate conditions in Sydney as it helped fight jetlag right away.
Moreover, there are some obstacles that could prevent flights like this from becoming regular occurrences. Qantas had to put tight limits on the number of people aboard in order to save fuel with just 49 passengers and crew flying aboard a Boeing 787-9 that typically holds 280. Any travelers would likely have to pay a premium on an already-expensive flight to compensate for the low headcount. If that’s not considered an obstacle, non-stop flights like this could be a smart option if time is of the essence.