Human guinea pigs prepare to board a non-stop Qantas Dreamliner flight from Heathrow to Sydney4 min read

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Now human guinea pigs prepare to board a non-stop Qantas Dreamliner research flight from London Heathrow to Sydney – and MailOnline will be joining them!

  • A Boeing 787 will fly 11,060 miles to Sydney – a journey of 19 and a half hours 
  • This will be only the second time a commercial airline has completed this trip
  • First research flight operated between NYC and Sydney non-stop 4 weeks ago 

Human guinea pigs are lining up once more to trial an ultra-long-haul Qantas research flight – and a MailOnline Travel writer will be one of them.

He will board a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at London Heathrow Airport tomorrow that will then fly non-stop to Sydney – a distance of 17,800km (11,060 miles) that’ll take around 19 and a half hours to cover.

This flight will be only the second time in history that a commercial airline has flown direct from London to Sydney.

MailOnline Travel will board a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (pictured) at London Heathrow Airport tomorrow that will then fly non-stop to Sydney

MailOnline Travel will board a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (pictured) at London Heathrow Airport tomorrow that will then fly non-stop to Sydney

The first was 30 years ago in 1989, when Qantas operated a 747-400 ferry flight between the two cities. The aircraft that performed that flight (VH-OJA) is now on public display at an aviation museum, south of Sydney.

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The Heathrow flight is operating to gather data about inflight passenger and crew health and wellbeing on ultra-long-haul journeys ahead of Qantas’s ‘Project Sunrise’ – non-stop commercial flights from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York.

The first research flight operated between New York and Sydney non-stop four weeks ago with 49 passengers and crew. It cut around three hours off the typical gate-to-gate travel time of current one-stop flights.

The research flight from Heathrow will carry around 50 passengers and crew in order to give the 787-9 the range required

The research flight from Heathrow will carry around 50 passengers and crew in order to give the 787-9 the range required

Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre as well as the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) will again travel on the non-stop Dreamliner flight to collect passenger and crew data.

The research flight from Heathrow will carry around 50 passengers and crew in order to give the 787-9 the range required. A similar arrangement was in place for the JFK operation.

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While the Heathrow flight is over 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) further than New York to Sydney, the duration is expected to be similar due to prevailing tail winds between London and Sydney.

On board, six Qantas Frequent Flyers will take part in the passenger research. They will be fitted with wearable technology devices and follow a redesigned eating and sleeping schedule which aims to facilitate onboard wellbeing and adjustment to new time zones.

On board, six Qantas Frequent Flyers will take part in the passenger research

On board, six Qantas Frequent Flyers will take part in the passenger research

All carbon emissions from the research flights will be offset.

Qantas recently announced an acceleration of its efforts to reduce its broader carbon footprint, including effectively doubling current levels of flight offsetting, capping carbon emissions from 2020 onwards and totally eliminating net emissions by the year 2050.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said air travel had evolved over the years and innovation was key, which involved looking at options to redesign aircraft cabins to include ‘move and stretch’ zones and other social spaces.

He said: ‘We know that travellers want room to move on these direct services, and the exercises we encouraged on the first research flight seemed to work really well. So, we’re definitely looking to incorporate on-board stretching zones and even some simple modifications like overhead handles to encourage low impact exercises.’ 

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Professor Corinne Caillaud from the Charles Perkins Centre said: ‘We are hopeful that the interventions and strategies we tried on the first research flight helped passengers better manage the challenges of crossing multiple time zones. From a research point of view, it was something quite novel.

‘We’re looking forward to this second flight, which will involve passengers eating supper at breakfast time, with the aim of encouraging them to sleep at 10am in the morning London time to help avoid light and reset their body clock to Sydney time.’

Passengers will board at 6am London time. After take-off they will be offered a range of high GI supper options such as chicken broth with macaroni or a steak sandwich, along with a glass of wine and a milk based pana cotta dessert.

Cabin lighting and temperature, stretching and meditation will also play key roles in the research. 

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