Australian airline Qantas is testing what may become the world’s longest flight. As part of a program called Project Sunrise, the test flight will travel more than 10,000 miles in about 20 hours.
It’s clear modern aircraft can make the journey without stopping for fuel, but this specific initiative seeks to reveal more about the human condition during and after such a long flight. As part of the test project, Qantas hired researchers from Sydney University and Monash University who will monitor pilots, crew and passengers, especially their sleep patterns, throughout the flight and how they feel afterward. Current Australian aviation rules forbid pilots and crew to fly for more than 18 hours at a time, but meals will be optimized and alertness assessed to develop a strategy for the crew members on extra-long routes.
Once in Sydney, researchers will conduct a separate set of experiments regarding jet lag, encouraging participants to adapt to Sydney time upon landing. The test flight will only have 50 people onboard and will include pilots, crew, researchers and a few passengers.
Qantas hopes the first commercially available flight to fly this distance will take off in 2023.
All airplane flights begin on the ground. An airport is the starting point, but airspace issues continue to expand from the terrestrial to the aerial. Altitude is no barrier when countries claim sovereignty from the Earth to beyond the stratosphere.
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