Project Sunrise — Qantas to Conduct Ultra Long-haul Research Flights
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Project Sunrise — Qantas to Conduct Ultra Long-haul Research Flights

Project Sunrise — Qantas to Conduct Ultra Long-haul Research Flights

Image Attribute: Qantas' Boeing 787-9s Dreamliner

On August 22, 2019, Australian carrier Qantas has announced three "ultra long-haul research flights" to gather new data on health and well-being of in-flight passenger and crew. The three flights over three months will use new Boeing 787-9s and re-route their planned delivery flights. 

The airline will then reportedly decide whether to offer these long-haul flights — dubbed "Project Sunrise" — before the end of this year. The goal is to operate regular, non-stop commercial flights from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York. Instead of flying empty from Seattle to Australia, the aircraft will simulate two Project Sunrise routes – London and New York to Sydney. 

People in the cabin – mostly Qantas employees – will be fitted with wearable technology devices and take part in specific experiences at varying stages of the approximately 19 hour flights. Scientists and medical experts from the Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Center will monitor sleep patterns, food and beverage consumption, lighting, physical movement and in-flight entertainment to assess impact on health, well-being and body clock. 

Monash University researchers will work with pilots to record crew melatonin levels before, during and after the flights. Pilots will wear an EEG (electroencephalogram) device that tracks brain wave patterns and monitors alertness. The aim is to establish data to assist in building the optimum work and rest pattern for pilots operating long haul services.

The aim is to establish data to assist in building the optimum work and rest pattern for pilots operating long haul services. Findings on crew well-being data will be shared with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to help inform regulatory requirements associated with ultra-long haul flights. 

A final decision on Project Sunrise is expected by the end of December 2019 – which depends on aircraft economics, regulatory approvals and industrial agreements.