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Qantas orders Airbus A350s for Project Sunrise

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Qantas placed orders for 12 specially modified Airbus A350-1000s this week to serve as its Project Sunrise fleet. The airline will launch non-stop flights from Sydney to London and New York by the end of 2025. The fleet will also enable Qantas to launch additional non-stop flights from Australia to ‘any other city.’

What is Project Sunrise?

Qantas has long sought non-stop service from eastern Australia to Europe and eastern North America. Dubbed Project Sunrise, the airline began a research program to understand the requirements for aircraft, crew, and passengers to operate 20+ hour flights.

In 2019, Qantas operated three test flights using lightly loaded Boeing 787-9s. Pilots, cabin crew, and passengers wore special sensors and participated in different research programs.

The flight to New York from Sydney measures 16,013 km (8,646 nm) and the flight to London measures 17,016 km (9,188 nm). The Project Sunrise flights will become the longest in the world, with the London flight being nearly 2,000 km longer than the world’s current longest flight between Singapore and New York.

Until now, no aircraft offered the range to economically operate those flights. Qantas’ order for 12 A350-1000s enables the airline to begin flights from Australia to anywhere thanks to modifications to the airframe. Airbus originally said it would not need to add an additional fuel tank, but after further review will do so to ensure the aircraft has the needed range.

Inside Qantas’ A350s

Rendering of Qantas’ Airbus A350-1000 interior

Qantas has revealed that the aircraft will feature 238 total seats, including six first class suites, 52 business class suites, 40 premium economy seats, and 140 economy seats. There will also be a “wellbeing zone” between the premium economy and economy cabins.

Qantas A350 Wellbeing Zone rendering

Project Sunrise First Class

The six first class suites will feature a reclining chair and dedicated bed as well as a 32 inch monitor. The suites will feature a closing door, but it does not appear that they’ll be fully enclosed.

Will you be onboard?

Project Sunrise flights are scheduled to launch by the end of 2025. Would you be willing to book on a 20+ non-stop flight? Or are multiple, shorter connecting flights preferred? Let us know in the comments below.

Interior renderings provided by Qantas. Featured image © Yohane.
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34 Responses

  1. As a matter of interest what engine option hade been chosen?

  2. I’m curious what the results of the flight tests were in terms of radiation. What an equivalent dose of X-rays or bananas would be interesting. Was there any other reported side effects of such a long flight? How long is the flight and what potential routes will the use?

  3. To do 20 hrs in an economy seat, it will have to be more spacious and more comfortable than the present economy seats…
    I have always thought there could be economy horizontal tubes to travel long distance say stacked in threes like a beehive!

  4. If I had the large amount of money it will take to buy the trip, I would definitely be the first to buy the route to London!

  5. That would be a great chance to be on a try out for that 20 hour flight.
    Even the cost could avoid me from doing it.

  6. I would happily be on the first flight. Having flown many many 14 hour flights to Asia, I have no problem going a few extra. hours. Lots of good books, a couple movies, some fun foods and some time cut off from the rest of the world. I rather enjoy these long flights. I’m hoping to snag one of the first JFK-SYD flights in 2025!

  7. For business I flew several times Lufthansa’s longest flight in Y-class in roughly 14 hours 30 minutes from FRA to EZE (Buenos Aires). That is pretty tough, I would say even in Premium Economy class. With reclining seats in C-class or F-class there is no problem because you can sleep comfortably.
    The planned 20-hours flights by Qantas is no problem in F-class or C-class. However in Y-class a very challenging trip for young people, a no go for elderly folks.
    Qantas should consider to reduce the number of standard Y-class and increase the number of Premium Y-class with new, top reclining Premium Y-class seats.

  8. On the face of it, unless they are willing to give significantly more room to the economy class passengers, it would appear to be the airlines version of waterboarding.
    Flying economy for 10 hours at the moment in the cramped narrow seating of economy is a seriously bad experience. My mind goes into spasms at the thought of twice that time.
    Is there any way airlines can be encouraged to boldly advertise their advantage over others in that they actually provide a pleasurable experience for passengers. OK for a few dollars more, but balance that against the misery of DVT.

  9. I have already done three Australia to UK direct flights, DWN-LHR and PER-LHR. I was a bit concerned initially but, oh my goodness, going direct has been so much easier and more pleasant than via SIN or Dubai. Once one has got going, the extra thre hours doesn’t seem to be much of a bother compared with the stopovers. It’s the only way to go. Doing LHR-DWN if felt really sorry for those going on to SYD, so much easier if they could just stay airborne.

  10. Absolutely I would. And if I recall correctly from the test flights, when flying eastwards you get two sunrises, right? Has to be the ultimate experience. Wish I could be able to afford such a ticket.

  11. I most certainly will, if I live long enough!! I can remember flying from Brize Norton in England to Singapore in a RAF Hastings via everywhere, in 1955 and it took 5 days. I”m not going to miss the opportunity to do the same trip (plus a few km) in less than one day.

  12. I’ve flown form NZ on the East and West route’s to the UK in the 70- 80’s. In those day’s, no
    direct flight’s, one stopover, Suited us, have a sniff around for a couple if day’s. I guess direct would
    cut down landing fee’s and fuel cost’s?. Maybe in year’s to come Sub sonic could be the answer?
    Air travel has to go forward, but which way?. Thanks, BS.

  13. I would totally take the flight from Sydney to London — sign me up!

  14. Unless specifically planning a stay at a stopover destination, just getting from A to B with the least interruption would be my preference

  15. As long as the seats are well designed ergometrically with orthopaedic ,respiratory and psychologists input it should work
    All seats currently have deficiencies even some first and most business clas seats

  16. Not me! Not even in J class. Cooped up with reduced O2 levels for 20+ hours would drive me crazy. And for what? To save a few hours in transit? Nobody’s that time poor. Also Qantas will charge through the nose for these direct flights. I will happily avoid them.

  17. I would definitely book a 20+ hour flight, if the price is right. Which I doubt.

  18. Would definitely choose the non-stop flight. Ready for trying it out.

  19. Having done the journey from LHR to SYD, via DXB, I think one journey would be good. Saves having to faff about going through in transit customs etc. Then again, having those breaks is good for movement to prevent DVT’s.

  20. If I was in first or business class I would take 20 hr flight if I was in any other class, no way.

  21. I think that for business people it might be welcomed. But I would imagine the price of tickets would put it out of reach of ordinary passengers.

  22. I live in New Zealand so I am used to long flights to almost anywhere except Australia and the South Pacific Islands. However, as I very unlikely to be able to afford business class or first class, I think shorter sectors with more stops to stretch the legs are preferable.

    Furthermore, Air New Zealand is going to be starting Auckland-New York flights later this year so that is more convenient for me. (I have done Qantas AKL-X/SYD-X/LAX-JFK return before and it was a painfully long flight considering I had to go through three hours in the wrong direction from AKL-SYD and SYD-AKL.

  23. I like the idea, but not sure it’s for me personally. I suffered a DVT as a result of long haul flight London-Tokyo-Sydney with an immobilised broken foot. So I wonder about such risks generally for such a long flight with Project Sunrise?

  24. We have been overseas a few times but l/we hate the stopover’s. So would love to do a non stop from Sydney to London.

  25. Thinking ahead to flying from Gold Coast Qld to Singapore then to Helsinki and to Budapest and return. I could not stand a huge long flight so intend to break it up with a few days in each stopover

  26. I will certainly be on one of the first flights in First class! Can’t wait…..

  27. Glad to see Qantas has picked the best aircraft for the job- Quiet with plenty of room and wider seats together with pressurisation that give a less long haul feeling.
    Qantas in known for its first class service with genuine helpfulness from the cabin crews-looking forward to booking a business (has to be for 20hrs) trip to Australia from London to test out this 20hr service- hate the stop over, just more airport trauma. Much rather stay on the aircraft. The real test, will be the space and comfort provided and an allowance to stretch ones legs. If the end result is to cut corners and not provide the necessary space-then it will very quickly become a negative talking point, which I am sure Qantas does not want. 20hrs aboard anything is a trial, we have to wait and see what develops. I plan to use mine for business talks and connections plus catching up on the paperwork during the flight, so I will be expecting the best facilities to that end. 20 hrs is a lot of lost time and I will need to fill it with productiveness, not endless films.Next to all of that, comes the food, which must be to the highest standard if only to take ones mind away from the flight. So Qantas, you have a lot to achieve, I wish you luck.

  28. OK if you just want to go to UK or East Coast USA. But there are plenty more interesting stopovers.
    Anyway I’m saving now for the experience. Bring it on.

  29. I’ve never been on a flight longer than six hours so I have visions of anxiety and distress. I might be more suited to steerage on a tall ship round the horn.

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