Qantas’ first non-stop flight to UK takes off
THE first non-stop flight between Australia and England has taken off and will touch down in London today, in what Qantas chief Alan Joyce has hailed as a giant step towards direct flights from Australia's east coast to Europe and New York.
Mr Joyce described the achievement as "momentous".
"It's a game-changer for Australian aviation - the last two continents of the world that don't have an air link, joined," he said.
Work was well underway to make Qantas direct flights from Australia's east coast to London and New York a reality, as part of an operation called Project Sunrise, Mr Joyce said.
"We'll build on what we've already learnt in preparing for Perth to London when it comes to ways to reduce jet lag and make the whole experience more comfortable. We want to keep innovating in comfort, not just distance," he said.
"We're using the same flight planning technology we used for Perth-London as part of Project Sunrise. We take a decade worth of data on seasonal winds that we'd likely encounter in real life and use that to determine the most efficient route at different times of year, and that gives you a better sense of the aircraft range."
Aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing had responded to a Qantas challenge to create planes which could make the distance from Australia's east coast to London and New York,, while maintaining a high level of passenger comfort and also making business sense, Mr Joyce said.
"They have teams at their headquarters in Seattle and Toulouse working with our project team at Qantas. There's a lot happening behind the scenes. At the moment it's about weight and distance, working out if the aircraft can reach London and New York from the east coast of Australia with enough passengers on board to be commercially viable. Part of that is working out how many economy seats, how many business class seats, and so on. You have to look at a lot of different combinations to find the right balance."
A Boeing 787-Dreamliner - specifically designed to reduce jet lag and increase comfort and wellbeing - for passengers on long-haul flights, will be used on the new Perth-London route.
The direct flights replace Qantas's existing Melbourne-Dubai-London services.
The 14,498km flight is expected to take 17 hours and 20 minutes and will be about 15 minutes longer than Qantas' 13,730km Sydney-Dallas operation, making it the longest Qantas flight, and third longest flight in the world.
Co-captained by one of Qantas' handful of female international pilots, Lisa Norman, the Dreamliner will have a total of four pilots and 12 cabin crew members on board.
The plane can carry 236 passengers.
The Boeing Dreamliner-787 uses up to 20 per cent less fuel than other aircraft of its size and is expected to use 92 tonnes or 110,000 litres of fuel on the Perth to London flight.