Qantas selects Airbus’ A350-1000 for lengthy Project Sunrise flights

Posted: 13 December 2019 11:09 am

Airbus A350

Qantas may order up to 12 aircraft for the 20+ hour flights.

Qantas has selected the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft for its Project Sunrise flights which are still planned to begin in the first half of 2023.

The aircraft will be used to fly nonstop from destinations like London and New York to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

While no firm orders have yet been made, Qantas has received a one month extension by Airbus to lock in an order for up to 12 aircraft.

The aircraft will include an extra fuel tank and a higher maximum takeoff weight to be able to undertake the long flights of up to 21 hours.

Qantas is also continuing its research into new first, business, premium economy and economy class cabins for the flights, with a particular emphasis on dedicated stretching and movement areas for economy class passengers.

The Airbus A350-1000 aircraft Qantas has selected is the longer variant of the same aircraft currently being used by Singapore Airlines for the current longest flight in the world from Singapore to Newark.

This flight clocks in at a whopping 18 hours and 45 minutes, and the aircraft Singapore Airlines uses for it is fitted out exclusively with 94 premium economy and 67 business class seats.

The Airbus A350 aircraft is made from over 70% "advanced materials" including carbon composites and titanium alloys. This means it has a lower cabin pressure and higher humidity compared to other aircraft which leaves passengers reportedly feeling less fatigued and jetlagged.

The A350 aircraft contains numerous other innovations including:

  • 25% lower fuel consumption versus the nearest competition
  • It's currently the quietest twin-aisle aircraft cabin
  • Cabin LED ambient lighting to help combat jet lag
  • Air is renewed within the cabin every 2 - 3 minutes

Qantas' decision to select the Airbus A350 beats out Boeing's new 777X aircraft.

Qantas has already conducted two nonstop research flights from London to Sydney and New York to Sydney on its Boeing 787-9 aircraft to measure the impact of these longer flights on passengers and crew. Its final research flight will take place 17 December 2019 from New York to Sydney.

Before Project Sunrise can become a reality, Qantas needs to finalise its negotiations with the industry body representing its pilots, the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA).

It also needs to receive regulatory approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to extend current operating limits. The data from the three research flights will be used to help Qantas make its case, although Qantas states "CASA has provisionally advised that it sees no regulatory obstacles to the Sunrise flights".

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